KAMPALA. Sadam Juma, you could argue, fits that group of Ugandan youngsters that promised so much yet delivered so little.
You always thought he could do better; just a little more given the potential.
One of those highly billed growing up, he can sit deep and hurt you from there or advance further forward for that odd pile-driver outside the 18-yard area.
But early pressure - then at Bunamwaya (now Vipers) - coupled with poor management would see him end at Sài Gòn Xuân Thành in Vietnam aged 19.
Just a year or so earlier, English club Nottingham had reportedly sent paperwork to Bunamwaya to sign in time for Sadam to play in a youth match, which had academy manager watching.
But the Ugandan club didn’t oblige, according to the player, and that’s how he lost out on a youth deal.
However, according to Harunah Kyobe, club secretary at then, “the deal collapsed after the coach who had interest in him was sacked.”
The saga upset Sadam. “When my deal to Nottingham Forest fell through,” Sadam, who made the 27-man Cranes provisional squad to Abu Dhabi ahead of next month’s Afcon finals in Egypt, told Daily Monitor.
“I just wanted any way out of Bunamwaya. I decided to go to Vietnam and reaching there it was all a new world for me.
“I was a kid by then (19 years in 2011) going in a country you don’t know, things so different, from food, weather, people.
“Although they paid well, I had a full year there with no progress and I saw my career dipping.”
Persistent injuries saw him sit out of the game for a couple of years but soon recovered and found his way back via Vipers and Express before KCCA snatched him.
He has put in some decent shift to earn a chance of playing at Afcon for the very first time.
“It feels great to be part of the squad preparing to fight for the nation and it’s always a great honor to represent your country,” said Sadam.
The player knows it’s a big chance but a daunting one too with Cranes midfield the most crowded in coach Sebastien Desabre’s team.
“But you’ve got to play your way in because there’s a reason the coach selected you.
“As you know football isn’t poker that you win by luck, it’s all hard work.
“I just have to push and the rest it’s with the technical team.”
Can do better
Sadam is the first to admit he has not lived up to expectations.
“I have not really given my very best over the years but at least 70%,” said the player, “It’s still work in progress and believe me a lot is still to come.”
The Cranes open their Afcon campaign on June 22 against DRC, taking on Zimbabwe later before wrapping the group against hosts Egypt.
Uganda Cranes Squad
Goalkeepers: Denis Onyango, Jamal Salim, Robert Odongkara , Charles Lukwago.
Bevis Mugabi, Nicholas Wadada , Awanyi Timothy , Hassan Wasswa Mawanda , Ronald Mukiibi , Murushid Juuko , Godfrey Walsumbi, Muleme Isaac , Joseph Ochaya
Tadeo Lwanga, Khalid Aucho, Krizestom Ntambi, Michael Azira, Waisswa Moses, Sadam Juma, Faruku Miya , Kizito Luwagg, Kateregga Allan , Abdul Lumala
Patrick Kaddu, Allan Kyambadde, Alexis Bakka, Nsibambi Derrick, Emmanuel Okwi
2019 TOTAL AFCON
Abu Dhabi camp (May 27-June 17)
May 27: Depart Ebb for AUH for 3 weeks
June 9: Cranes vs Unknown opponent
June 15: Uganda vs Ivory Coast
CRANES AFCON FIXTURES
June 22: Uganda vs DR Congo, Cairo
June 26: Uganda vs Zimbabwe, Cairo
June 30: Egypt vs Uganda, Cairo