KCCA: To play false nine or not to

Sunday January 13 2019

Enforcer. Muzamiru Mutyaba is deplyed behind

Enforcer. Muzamiru Mutyaba is deplyed behind the attackers to wreck havoc. PHOTO BY JOHN BATANUDDE 

By Robert Madoi

When Allan Okello appears in a KCCA starting XI, which he does more and more often now, he is widely expected to hold his audience spellbound. And sure enough he does. There is almost complete unanimity about this. Attempts at clear-headed conversations about what role and with whom the wunderkind thrives have, however, been stymied by differences in opinion.
After watching his side outscore Police FC in a nine-goal thriller, KCCA FC manager, Mike Mutebi weighed in on the debate at the prompting of a journalist. Okello had stuttered to just the solitary assist — a rather mundane layoff for Muzamir Mutyaba’s gorgeous pile driver — in the topflight league encounter at the StarTimes Stadium before being taken off with 16 minutes left to play. Mutebi had a reason as to why a player he places a considerable premium on had struggled to impress.

Okello plays in the hole for KCCA FC who give the teen sensation carte blanche to rove around and put his repertoire of skills to devastating effect. He mostly likes to drift out on the right where he finds so much joy cutting into the weaker foot of his marker. Whilst many Ugandan clubs have with time found an antidote to this tactic, danger from Okello’s cultured left foot is never far away. Yet, as Mutebi noted after the Police match, there have been two variants — if you will — of KCCA’s No.25 this season. When Patrick Kaddu has been asked to lead the line, Okello has undoubtedly been in his element. Not much so when a false nine — take Mike Mutyaba in the hiding handed to Police — has been deployed. This could be squarely down to the fact that KCCA’s spear head — unlike his nominal ilk — tends to attract bodies as well as stretch a defence, ceding pockets in which Okello gleefully ghosts into.

The likes of Nyamityobora and Paidha Black Angels might, it has to be said, have been obliging opponents as the Kasasiro Boys threatened to put on a cricket score, but it’s not a coincidence that things went swimmingly for Okello in those matches with Kaddu on the pitch. Expect Mutebi, who likes to break into granular detail even that that appears inconsequential, to try however he can to get to the bottom of why there is a whiff of dissonance when a false nine is shoehorned into the starting XI alongside Okello.

It helps a great deal that whereas he holds the ball superbly well, Kaddu isn’t your average physical-yet-immobile number nine. He often drops deep to give midfielders that extra passing option between the lines. In a sense, he sort of has the attributes that are the calling card of a false nine. A bit like Roberto Firmino in the red hue of Liverpool. Mutyaba hasn’t looked too shabby playing as a false nine to be honest. What has vexed if not KCCA fans then certainly Mutebi is why Okello has looked clueless at times in a false nine system. The renaissance of Mutyaba won’t come at Okello’s cost. Mutebi will want both players firing on all cylinders.