KAMPALA. Allan Okello’s scintillating performance in the 5-1 thrashing of South Sudan last Saturday, including two assists and a jaw-dropping goal, has the game’s followers in awe of the teenager, with a good number calling for his call-up to the senior national team.
Actually, some took to social media to respond to Monday Night NTV Press Box’s question seeking views on how Cranes coach Sebastien Desabre can solve the creativity problem in the national side, with most reminding the Frenchman the answer was at KCCA (read Okello).
But Okello’s club coach Mike Mutebi has been around long enough and knows the dangers of hurrying things.
“No,” Mutebi emphatically told the Daily Monitor yesterday, “He is not ready. He is still growing and we have to be patient with him. You cannot do cross-generation on a 19-year-old (19 in December) with 30-year-olds.
“Promotion to the senior team can only be useful if done with his colleagues… like five of them. Promoting him in isolation won’t help. We want him to grow organically with his colleagues.”
Asked whether the hype will get into the boy’s head, Mutebi was laid back. “He is a very disciplined boy,” he said of a player who made his big continental debut away to Mamelodi Sundowns last season, “This whole glamour thing he has managed it so well.”
“I have not seen anything to suggest he will change, and even then, he is in good hands here.”
Okello’s coach at the U20, Matia Lule, agrees with Mutebi. “We shouldn’t rush him,” he said, “We’ve seen it before - players being rushed and then end their careers before they even start.”
Odd special players
Also assistant to Cranes coach Desabre, Lule added: “We need to give him time. We want him and others to grow within a system; from U17s to U20s to U23s, just like Muhammad Shaban and a few others. “The good thing is the boy is down to earth and disciplined. Talent alone is not enough...
“You need discipline too and hard work and Allan has all. We thank coach Mike because with Mike, Allan is in good hands.”
Of course there is always that odd case of a special player that springs up and is so good to be kept away, like Jackson Mayanja forced himself into the senior team as a teenager in 1988, never to leave.
Those, indeed, are odd cases. Could Okello be one such case? Time would relish that question.