The unveiling of Frenchman Sebastien Desabre as Uganda Cranes’ coach was perhaps the biggest story last week. It ended a five-month period when the national team has been under interim coach Moses Basena.
He was appointed back in July following the departure of Serbian Milutin Micho, widely a popular choice after leading the team back to the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time since 1978.
Micho really set the bar high and also opened a can of worms upon the termination of his contract over unpaid wages. The latter was central at Desabre’s unveiling as journalists quizzed him about his expectations in a job where paying fully isn’t a given.
Earlier in the week, we had learnt that the federation and the government agreed to pay the national team coaches $20,000 (Shs72m), a figure that appears high in our economy but low if you compare with the price of football elsewhere in Africa.
With Fufa still in the process of offsetting Micho’s and the government promising to only join in paying from July 1, 2018 as per the budget process, the payment of the coach is not a crystal ball.
We are certain Desabre will get paid but it’s the timeframe that will cause debate in future in case any kind of conflict arises.
Away from that, coaches and their teams are judged on results and the former El Ismaily coach may not find merciful reviews once Cranes don’t pick desired results.
In 12 days, the team play at the biennial Africa National Championships in Morocco where Uganda is placed in a tough group alongside Zambia, Ivory Coast and Namibia.
It’s not the tournament where we should all start to judge whether Desabre will be a success or failure. He is yet to learn about the abilities and flaws of his players.
The Chan will be a learning event for Desabre and a total experiment in all ways. Win or lose, there ought to be a blank cheque to allow him experiment.
Thereafter, our report card from Morocco will help us see how he moves. Upon the return of the team from North Africa, Desabre is expected to watch as many league games as possible to acclimatise with the conditions of the game that will dominate his three-year contract.
It’s in September that Desabre will start to sit his real exam when the qualification for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations resumes. In a group where Uganda has Cape Verde, Tanzania and Lesotho, the bare minimum is to ensure back-to-back qualifications for Africa’s premier football event.
That campaign running until March, 2019 will define Desabre.. The daggers or flowers should be handed out then. It’s a unique situation that Desabre will find himself in, not to be crucified days into a job as coaches get the stick as soon as they conduct their first session.
However, any rule run on his methods or success and failure during the Chan will prove premature.
Happy New Year!