Less than two years ago, David Obua was the face of Uganda Cranes. Without the gangly player, the national team looked incomplete. And every time he turned up in the yellow and black jersey, Obua never disappointed.
In fact, on many occasions he came to the team’s rescue, scoring important goals. His exploits earned him admiration from Cranes fans. But then came his moment of madness – his shirt-throwing stunt when he was substituted during a Nations Cup qualifier against Guinea Bissau at Namboole in June 2011.
The fans’ love never ceased, though. Obua apologized and was ‘forgiven’. As the Cranes intensified preparations for their final game of the 2012 Nations Cup qualifiers against Kenya on October 8, 2011, Obua was still one of the go-to guys for the team.
On the eve of the match, however, hell broke loose as Obua was dismissed from camp. His crime: requesting team management to allow him ask President Museveni, who was visiting camp, questions.
Result: Uganda 0-0 Kenya, Obua’s retirement and Cranes’ failure to make the Nations Cup finals.
That Obua was sorely missed in the Kenyan game needs no emphasis. A lot has since changed in Obua’s career and the Cranes.
Previously one of Uganda’s few exports to Europe, Obua is now without a club after Scotland side Hearts decided not to renew his contract. He is now training with local side Maroons, just to keep in shape. Under such circumstances, many expected Obua to make a U-turn to the Cranes as a way of rejuvenating his career. Talk has also been ripe that some football administrators are talking the player into making a return to the squad.
“I stand by what l said earlier,” Obua reiterated. Commonly referred to as King David, Obua is one of few Ugandan players that freely speak their mind. He completely disagrees with the way the game at large and Cranes are managed.
To him, Bobby Williamson is not the right coach for Cranes and Lawrence Mulindwa can’t head the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (Fufa) any longer. “I will never play for the national team until changes are put in place,” he said.
“I shared great memories during my time with the Cranes. l miss some of my colleagues but we shall meet in heaven, you never know,” he joked. Even after spending about eight months without playing competitive football, Obua is still working as hard as ever. He is desperate to get back in shape with hope of finding employment at another club. “You know the market isn’t that good right now,” said the former Express player. “But I am taking my time.” “l know I am not fully fit but don’t be surprised to hear that I have joined a team in Europe or South Africa.”
Since his return to Uganda, there has been speculation that he could join a local club. URA, Victoria University and Victors are some of the teams he had been linked to. “Those saying that are dreaming,” he reacted. “That’s baseless speculation.” But he chose to train with Maroons and his two-month stay with the Uganda Prisons side seems to be impacting on some of the upcoming players. “Sincerely, ever since David joined us, our morale is high. We look up to him being our senior because he has been there and done it all. The boys are motivated,” Maroons captain Sylvester Okello said.
Brian Akena, another Maroons player chipped in: “Obua encourages us to work hard. We were demotivated because of the current administrative wrangles but he has helped us to stay focused.” Before joining Hearts in 2008, Obua was a hit at South African side Kaizer Chiefs. His last game for Hearts was a 2-0 defeat to Dundee on February 25, 2011 in which he was substituted after 67 minutes following an injury.
In 91 appearances for the Tynecastle-based side, Obua netted six times, including a last minute winner against Hibernians away at Easter Road in the Edinburgh derby in May 2010.