The livewire striker that is Mohammad Shaban, so synonymous with the impressive Onduparaka team that made the 2016 Uganda Cup final the same year they were promoted, is some hazy memory today.
From scoring 30-plus goals in that successful year for his then side, in addition to the 13 he netted in Onduparaka’s debut top-flight season in 2016/2017 as they finished a charming fifth, the 22-year-old was hard to ignore.
The controversial Fufa Male Footballer of 2016 ahead of Africa’s best and Caf Champions League winner, goalkeeper Denis Onyango, of course left a bitter taste in many a mouth with that award win, but that did little to discredit the boy’s returns.
Actually, his delivery not only attracted KCCA manager Mike Mutebi’s attention, who eventually snapped him in 2017/18 albeit it being a short-lived move; it also forced then Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic to have him in his Gabon Afcon finals squad.
With his love-hate relationship at KCCA, coupled with some niggling injuries, it was a matter of when, not if, the Lugogo side would offload him, and when Morocco’s Raja Casablanca came calling, it was a willing farewell.
His three-year-deal in Morocco was, however, one to forget; with the striker scoring just once in seven appearances and his contract cut short as he returned home to join Vipers last year.
Nothing significant has since happened, with Shaban being sidelined with a knee problem.
The club had to take the tough but necessary decision to have him face the knife.
He had started his way back to full fitness by the time Covid-19 halted action in March, and continues the journey, but he will be glad that his new coach Fred Kajoba is not in a hurry to have him playing too soon.
“He advised me to be patient and keep working hard,” Shaban is quoted by his club website.
“His words were also full of encouragement and he told me not to drop my shoulders because I still have my full career ahead of me.
“The most important thing, to him, was my recovery and then other things would follow.”
When Daily Monitor contacted Kajoba, the 2019/20 league winning coach said, “I have full faith and trust in Shaban because at his best, few if any strikers can match him."
“He has demonstrated before that he can easily score goals and once we have him back fully fit, he will score goals,” added Kajoba.
Shaban’s return to full fitness would be a timely relief after the club’s lead striker last season, Fahad Bayo, joined compatriot Timothy Awany at Israeli side, Ashdod.
The Vipers striker, Shaban, does not want to put timelines to his return to action but believes “it won’t take me very long because I have been working overtime,” he said.
“I need a run out there to see how I will fare. The stage we are going to play at is tough and I need to be up there in terms of fitness both physically and psychologically.”
The one area few can question Shaban is the back of the net bearing in the striker’s lenses.
Full Names: Mohammed Shaban
Date of Birth: Jan 11, 1998
Place of Birth: Arua
Age: 22 years
Position: Centre Forward
Weight: 68 kgs
Jersey No: 28
Stronger Foot: Right
Agents: H&F Agency
Former Clubs: Onduparaka, KCCA and Raja Casablanca
Current Team: Vipers SC
Joined: August 7, 2019
Honour: 2016 Fufa Footballer of the Year
Cranes Debut: 2016