There were and are still some fears over youngster Allan Okello’s $200000 (Shs734m) move to lesser known Algerian club Paradou AC from KCCA last month. Why?
Since breaking into the Lugogo-based side’s first team in 2017, the teenager snubbed moves to bigger African clubs like Mamelodi Sundowns, Al Ahly and Wydad Casablanca as well as interest from Ajax Amsterdam and trials at FC Zurich.
To vindicate his decision, Okello debuted for Paradou with a beautiful strike in the 90th minute that capped a 5-0 win over MC El Bayadh in the Algerian Cup round of 16 on Thursday.
“I just thank God,” Okello told this paper via phone from Algiers. He featured for the final 20 minutes and curled in a customary left-foot strike before wheeling away in celebration at the Stade Omar Hamadi.
The victory set-up a quarterfinal encounter with Guelma. The 19-year-old’s goal grants optimism that Okello can take the same route players from Paradou’s ‘El Ankaoui’ Academy have taken to join clubs in Europe such as Hicham Boudaoui (Nice), Farid El Mellali (Angers) and Ramy Bensebaini (Rennes) to the French Ligue 1 as well as Youcef Attal (KV Kortrijk) to Belgium.
Bar El Mellali, the trio was part of the squad that won the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt last June. And despite the fears and the sad history of Ugandan players in North Africa, the darling appears to have settled in well.
“Algeria is good, not bad. The environment here is different.” Okello says. Weather, food and language are often a tall order for anyone away from home.
“Most of the time, it is so cold. The food is good, easy to cope up with. I have not yet started French lessons but I think they start next week,” he added.
Okello could get more playing time when Paradou, in 12th place with 21 points in 16 matches, faces second-placed JB Kabylie in the Algerian Ligue 1 at the Stade 1er Novembre 1954 tomorrow.