Saturday May 17 2014

Cranes’ Wasswa opens up on his love-hate relationship with KCC

Wasswa (fifth right) lines up with Uganda Cranes for the

Wasswa (fifth right) lines up with Uganda Cranes for the anthem ahead of the match against Zambia at Namboole in 2012. The physically imposing midfielder cum defender told Daily Monitor that he has kept himself in shape despite not kicking a competitive ball since February. File photo 

He stands, hands to waist, and face straight-up overseeing the swimming pool and to the gym at Centenary Park as if wondering when we would be through with this inquest so he could lift some weights.

Yet his eyes reveal deep-seated pain and – to a good extent – anger and disgust. Hassan Wasswa would rather eat into his gym time than keep inside what he thinks the public does not know, or what – in his view – they have been wrongly fed on.

“I want to clear the air,” he starts, facing me briefly before his eyes pick on the ground, two or three strands of his dreadlocks flipping over his forehead, “Whatever KCC have been talking about me is all false.

“What they are saying that I signed for a club in Vietnam; that I went to Vietnam without their consent is all not true.”

He is on a roll that an interruption would hurt his flow. “I went to Vietnam for trials and KCC knew. I had given them my papers, showed them my tickets and letter that I was going for trials, so they knew where I was.

“Surprisingly when I was in Vietnam I read in the news KCC saying that I have left without their consent.
“I don’t know if KCC have any personal issues with me but as far as I’m concerned, I don’t have any with them,” he claims.

Counter accusations
Wasswa and KCC have been involved in a cat and mouse festival since last October when news emerged that the player, who had just finished his first of the two years he had signed with KCC, had joined Vietnamese side Dong Nai on a two-year deal.

He – clad in the Vietnamese club shirt - even had pictures of him and a Dong Nai official on his Facebook page last year where he posted at the time: “Thank you Allah.

(I) can’t stop praising you because without you I’m nothing but with you am the General.”
KCC were quick to dismiss the news saying for as long as they were concerned, Wasswa was still their player, and even claimed he had left for Vietnam without their permission.

“After about two weeks with Dong Nai, they (Dong Nai) had given me a letter to bring to KCC to agree terms,” he says of his initial trip to Vietnam,” In that letter they offered KCC $20,000 (Shs50m)
“So I told them look, Dong Nai are offering to pay KCC $20,000 so that you release me and I get my ITC. But they refused.

“So I told manager Kabuye… I told him on a personal level that ‘see, this is what Dong Nai is offering, this is my career, my future.’

“He told me that, ‘yes let me speak to the board.’ I kept quiet. Then Dong Nai bought me another ticket to Dubai and it’s then KCC told me that they can’t sell me, that they want $50,000 (Shs125m).
“I told them that ‘listen, this is my future you guys are playing with. $20,000 is a lot for you.’ Besides, I wasn’t getting a single coin from that money. The only money I would get was the salary at Dong Nai.

“Before I knew KCC had sent a letter to Dong Nai accusing them of signing me without their approval, and Dong Nai were asking me what all this was about.”

Did he sign with Dong Nai?
But what then were you doing in the pictures where you were unveiled as having signed a two-year-deal, Hassan? Surely you recognize yourself, there. Not so?

“That was a pre-contract,” he elucidates, “Dong Nai were so happy with me and they knew me. So they just asked me to take pictures and then come back and complete documentation with KCC for my ITC. You don’t sign for any club before getting an ITC. So I had not signed for Dong Nai.

“It’s then that I told Dong Nai to let me come back to Kampala and sort my issues with KCC. They then assured me that they had faith in me and that I can always let them know once my issues with KCC are sorted. They then bought me a ticket and I came back to Kampala.

“I was so mad with KCC when I came back. I asked them ‘why did you do this to me.?’ They told me ‘no Hassan, it’s the board.’ I said fine, let me come back to KCC; get done with my contract then leave.”

Wasswa’s return coincided with the Africa Nations Championship (Chan), for which Cranes coach had called him. But KCC were reportedly unhappy with him honouring the call-up, insisting they had issues to sort with him first.

“I told them that ‘guys, look… it’s not your role to stop me from going to the national team. I have been called and I’m going to the national team. So I went to Chan, played and after the tournament, I went back to KCC and asked when I’m supposed to start training.
“They told me that ‘Hassan, we still have some issues to sort with you, we shall call you. First week passed, second week, third week… it went to a month.

“I called them again but they said they would call me. Meanwhile, all the while they were not paying my salary (his last salary came on November 30), up to now (six months). They say they suspended me they never gave me a suspension letter, nothing.

“I continued waiting but it was getting serious, I called them again but they kept saying they will call me back. All this time I would go to KCC for training but they would leave me out. The players are my witnesses and they would ask me, ‘Hassan when do you starting training?’

“It was getting out of hand, I have a family to feed so I told them ‘guys, I need to train, I need to keep myself fit, I have a family to feed… if you don’t want me just release me and I go in good faith.

“Apart from my six-month salary, they owe me my Shs5m. You know in my contract with KCC, they would give me Shs15m cash sign-on fee and pay me the remaining Shs5m after I have completed one year with them. I completed a year with them without any trouble, so they should pay me my Shs5m.”

Wasswa seemed to have had enough. The midfielder then wrote to Fufa last month explaining “the mistreatment from KCC and they promised to look into it. Fufa gave me a go ahead to train with any other team because KCC breached my contract.”

Fufa vice president in charge of the league Mujib Kasule blames Wasswa’s woes on KCC. “The club should hand out a punishment to him instead of leaving him inactive because it is the country that loses out,” Kasule said after a week ago.

“KCC has never issued a suspension letter to the player and we wrote to them as the federation inquiring why.”

KCC vice chairman in charge of administration Allan Ssewanyana, however, disagrees with Kasule saying it is the player to blame after refusing to apologise for his deeds. “As a club we asked the player to apologise to his coaches after the Chan tournament but he has not appeared since, so what should we do?” Ssewanyana says in total contrast with the player’s submissions.

On Cranes and inactivity
It is amid all this clowning that Wasswa, a player who has not had competitive football since Chan in February, has been called to start Cranes preparations for the second round first leg qualifier away to Madagascar.

But Wasswa, who has cemented his place in the national team, insists he has been called on merit.

“What matters to me is that the coach trusts me,” he says, “There is no need for people telling me Hassan Wasswa you are favoured. I have been playing on the national team for a long time now and people know who I am.

“I played myself into the team and I deserve to be there. There are so many good players in the country but let them use the chance given to them to prove themselves. If a player comes and pushes me out on merit, I will respect that player and support him.

“This is my career, yes I have been out of competitive football since February but I know what I want. I have been working on my fitness doing personal training. For two weeks now I have been training with URA, it’s me more than anyone else who wants my future, my life. “I’m not going in to prove anything to anyone.

I will do it normally. I will do my best and the coaches will do their job, and if someone went ahead of me, I will support them.”

Gabon deal
But to club football, Wasswa is seeing some ray of hope. “I got a deal from Gabon and when KCC heard of it, they called me… surprisingly they called in. So, everyone was like ‘Hassan come, they are some people from Gabon… you should be here so that we finalise.’

“I was disturbed. It’s not that they wanted me as their player. But because money was coming in, now they were pretending everything was ok. “I spoke to my dad (Biruma) and he told me ‘Hassan, whatever those guys are saying, just ignore them and don’t say anything. Now you have seen that they want money, they don’t want you as a player. Just concentrate on your future, just continue working harder.”

The player added: “Anyway, we (him and KCC) went and spoke with the guys from Gabon. We talked and agreed my personal terms because I never wanted to know what KCC took or never took. I didn’t want to know.”

Gabonese topflight side, CF Mounana, are the club, here. Wasswa claims the Gabon deal is better than that he had agreed with Dong Nai. “They met me in South Africa and told me they liked my style of play. “For now I’m still waiting for my agent to finalise and if everything goes well I will be heading out for preseason after the World Cup.”

The four issues
*Club says Wasswa was suspended but he was never handed suspension letter
*Player claims he never signed for Dong Nai albeit appearing in pictures in the Vietnamese club shirt shaking hands with an official
*Wasswa claims on top of six months unpaid salary, KCC owe him Shs5m balance of his Shs20m sign-on fee
*Player says he has agreed terms with Gabon’s CF Mounana