UGANDA Cranes' 2006 World Cup/African Nations Cup aspirations appear to be taking the now-inevitable nosedive after a heart-breaking 1-1 stalemate that hugely flattered Ghana at Namboole.
That the result against the record four-time continental champions was considered tragic speaks volumes about the reversal of soccer fortunes for a nation that, some years ago, would have been content with a respectable defeat against such heralded opponents.
Saturday's encounter illustrated that Uganda can now courageously square off against Africa's finest with triumph as an expected consequence, rather than a miraculous impossibility.
Not that Ghana can be regarded among the continental heavyweights these days. Despite an enviable ensemble of sparkling talent, the Black Stars' are far divorced from their all-conquering compatriots of years past.
True, they still possess such accomplished footballers like Juventus' Stephen Appiah and Bayern Munich's Samuel Kuffour!
What is just as undeniable is that the duo's presence has done nothing to curtail the regressive trend of Ghanaian football that culminated into the ignominy of seeing their tickets to Tunisia 2004 stealthily snatched by soccer juveniles, Rwanda.
Ghana's pedestrian performance at Namboole will replenish of the armoury of those who view the West Africans as a spent force.
David Obua's strike at halftime crowned a dominant first-half by the hosts and if the team had gone for the jugular after recess, instead of defensive caution, three precious points would have been the logical end product.
Instead, Gyan Asamoah's towering header became the severe albeit foreseeable price for Uganda's perilous preference of defending a one-goal lead against a team littered with attacking genius.
Deprived of Joel Kitamirike, Ibrahim Sekagya and Suleiman Tenywa, Uganda's makeshift rearguard defended heroically, restricting Ghana to one shot on goal in the first-half.
Noah Kasule, fast realising the potential he's been suspected to possess, denied Ghana's fancied midfield space in which to operate with another man-of-the-match display that combined enthusiastic runs with typically whole-hearted challenges.
Assani Bajope, his comrade-in-arms, starred competently, with unhurried prompting and splendid enterprise from midfield.
Mike Mutebi's desperate pursuit for strikers though is bound to continue unabated, if Hassan Mubiru and Willy Kyambadde's uninspired contribution to the cause is anything to go by.
That Kyambadde was played out of position and his substitute, Tonny Ojara, hauled off after a seven-minute cameo as a lone ranger upfront, emphasize the gravity of our offensive situation.
A situation Mutebi must endeavour to swiftly rectify before the must-win September 3 engagement against Burkina Faso, if Uganda's customary collapse after a bright start in continental campaigns is to be averted this time.