Kiwanuka: More than just Kajoba’s assistant at Vipers

Thursday August 06 2020
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Kiwanuka (seated R) and Kajoba (L) prowled the dugout together for five years at Bright Stars until their contract expired in August 2018. Life took them to different paths but they’re now back together. PHOTO /EDDIE CHICCO

Many have regarded him as Fred Kajoba’s missing rib. Yet Paul Kiwanuka says he is a man on a mission. After re-uniting with Kajoba at Vipers last week, Kiwanuka said he is relishing making a bow in continental football.

Kiwanuka and Kajoba worked together for five years at Bright Stars until their contract expired in August 2018. Life took them into separate directions. Kajoba, a successful farmer, put emphasis on his farm whenever he was not with the national team while Kiwanuka kept firm in Masaza football.

This January, Kajoba was appointed Vipers coach to replace Edward Golola. He forged a relationship with Ibrahim Mugisha, Ronald Ssali and Edward Ssali which yielded the awarded Premier League trophy earning passage to Caf Champions League football next season.

But Kajoba needed his men to remain in control and unsurprisingly roping in Kiwanuka and Francis Mugerwa, another Bright Stars ally to the Venoms project, was not unexpected.

Forever second?
Yet Kiwanuka had an opportunity as head coach at Bright Stars which he did not seek to pursue.
The 38-year-old says he has long harboured the ambition to show his ability at the big stages.
“This is a big step for me,” Kiwanuka said in a phone interview this week. “I have always wanted to coach at the highest levels. That is why I did not hesitate when coach Kajoba offered me this opportunity.”

Hailing Kajoba’s benevolence Kiwanuka said, “I am always impressed by the ambitions of Kajoba. He sold to me his goals and they were irresistible.”

Kiwanuka, a former striker, whose career highlight was helping Kinyara to the Super League promotion in 2002, had his career cut short by a knee injury forcing him to concentrate on his studies while coaching kept his fire burning in football. He enrolled into coaching in 2006 after returning from Asia.

Venom pangs
Vipers, who qualify for their fourth Caf engagement have a lot to learn from their previous pursuits.
In 2011, they pulled out for financial reasons while in 2016, they were bundled out in the preliminaries. The Venoms made a step better in 2017 falling out in the first round before coming close to the groups in 2018.

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So, while the pressure is on the club to replicate KCCA’s previous laudable performances on the continent, or even better them, Kiwanuka believes the decision to join Vipers will drive him into new heights.

“Every man is at his best when he has something to prove. It is healthy to work under pressure and we are ready to deliver,” Kiwanuka says.

Work in progress
The Caf-B licenced coach has earned his right to be where he is. He has been on a pedestal by himself exposing his abilities to banner of the unforgiving lower league football and youth set-ups.

Having met Kajoba, then Simba’s (now UPDF) coach, he curated his craft in school football at Mbarara High with Moses Kalanzi, handled the Uganda Youth Soccer Academy (UYSA) and Edgars among youth football before coaching Kamwokya United.

The treacherous Masaza football saw him take charge of Kyadondo (twice) Kooki, Bulemeezi and Busiro. He has rarely won accolades with the 2019 Buganda Kingdom Bika Shield with Ngeye clan his notable silverware.

gkatongole@ug.nationmedia.com

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