Cranes coach Johnathan McKinstry sprang a major surprise when he selected Fahad Bayo for the Cranes’ home Afcon qualifier against Malawi in November last year.
The striker repaid the coach’s faith with the second goal on the day to seal a 2-0 win in what was his debut for the senior Uganda Cranes team.
The period was particularly fruitful for the former Proline striker, who had made a prolific start to life at Vipers, on his return to the Uganda Premier League (UPL) after a season at Zambian side Buildcon FC.
Bayo was fast out of the blocks scoring six goals in seven games before adding a further three before the end of 2019.
News of his move to Israel where he is set to link up with former high school teammate Timothy Awany at Ashdod FC was similarly met with surprise like his Cranes selection nine months ago but not to those the have contributed greatly to his journey thus far.
“If he is to progress further in his career then this is the right age and time. He played alongside Awany and was one of those that helped Allan Okello settle into our high school team,” stated Cranes assistant coach Abdallah Mubiru, who ensured both Bayo and Awany joined him at Kibuli SS from Homeland College in Lugazi from where they would later win a National Schools Soccer crown.
“There comes a time when a player establishes himself in this case like Bayo has done as a center forward. He makes life difficult for the opposition with his movement with or without the ball,” Mubiru said as he rated highly the 22-year-old forward.
His view is seconded by Mujib Kasule, who tutored Bayo at Proline from 2014 to 2018.
“Yes, he has improved. He now scores more and works so hard which is a nightmare for defenders,” Kasule says of his former player. His maiden goal in Cranes colours illustrated his attributes as he dispossessed a Malawian defender before finishing clinically.
After a stellar start Bayo’s form dipped slightly in the new year as evidenced by the return of three goals in nine second round league games.
This raised a few doubts about the burly forward’s game with critics pointing to him not shooting enough, sometimes losing concentration and missing easy chances.
While there remain flaws to his game, veteran coach Eddie Butindo who was the Technical Director during much of the season Bayo spent at Vipers believes Bayo can overcome them because of his character.
“His attitude is really good which will be important if he is to succeed in the Middle East and Europe. He is also the kind of player who still thrives most on the service he gets,” Butindo opined.
That was evidenced as the Cranes clinched the Cecafa title on home soil back in December with Bayo scoring thrice after good telepathy between him and playmaker Bright Anukani especially in the opening game as Cranes overcame Burundi. Few will match his physical presence even in Europe - if he ever makes that move.