This column has persisted in its urging of Ugandan football to adopt an identity. A cookie-cutter outlook, your columnist has always been at pains to stress, does not quite cut it.
A sentiment difficult to fault it may be, but it’s also always remained uncomfortable in the presence of Ugandan football’s top brass.
It was as if Ugandan football put no effort in its appearance and found comfort in ebbs and flows that affected the very possibility of success. A corner might not have necessarily been turned.
Recent indications, however, seem to suggest that Ugandan football has reluctantly come to the conclusion that a cookie-cutter outlook is startlingly old fashioned. The spike in coaches who are very single-minded about how football should be played has been key in righting an enduring wrong.
Last weekend, a Caf Confederation Cup preliminary round match at Lugogo brought together three gentlemen who are supposedly relentless in the hatred of each other’s guts. While the trio’s animosity limits options and rarely in ways that make Ugandan football richer, the script read a little differently on this occasion. Moses Magogo, Lawrence Mulindwa, and Ben Immanuel Misagga put their obvious differences aside and enjoyed a largely unimpeded view as Proline put Malawi’s Masters Security to the sword.
The reason why the media showed a remarkably light interest in what transpired in the VVIP stand at StarTimes Stadium is because there were no man-bites-dog stories. But above all because the footballing clinic Proline put on could hardly be reduced to a sideshow. The stunningly beautiful brand of football was far from being an accident. Proline has long been lionised as a club that plays football that is soft on the eye.
Shafiq Biasao, who was faced with some daunting decisions, some on a level never before confronted by a seasoned coach, dovetailed with the club’s philosophy.
And although he is leaving to further his coaching credentials overseas, Proline has promised to cherrypick a replacement who will stay true to the club’s ethos.
These ethos of course mirror those of KCCA FC who - as Proline were sweeping past Masters Security -- helped themselves to what could yet prove to be two crucial away goals during a Caf Champions League qualifier in Windhoek, Namibia. KCCA FC manager Mike Mutebi had in the assessment of some proved boneheaded in his fascination with a gung-ho approach especially away from home. Not known to suffer fools, Mutebi persisted, and the rest is history. One of Mutebi’s protégés, Abdallah Mubiru was recently handed the reins for the national team looking to qualify for the 2020 African Nations Championship. The soft spoken tactician opted to go with a double central midfield pivot of Muzamir Mutyaba and Sadam Juma for the return leg against Somalia.
Keen observers were quick to notice a sense of déjà vu. Not so far back, Mutebi -- who always seems to be ahead of the curve -- was roundly accused of upsetting the delicate balance of his KCCA team when he went with the Mutyaba-Juma pivot during a home continental engagement against FUS Rabat. What with orthodox holding midfielders like Isaac Kirabira available for selection! Mutebi went on to have the last laugh after watching his midfielders dominate en route to setting up a comfortable 3-1 win.
What the likes of Bisaso, Mutebi, and Mubiru have showed us is that there is a place for attacking football in Uganda. And that, as possibly difficult as it sounds, this could yet be our identity.
Fufa, who are now standing foursquare in the process of appointing a new Cranes coach, would do well whittling down candidates to ensure that only those espousing attacking football remain standing.
From Villa to Vipers, local transfers reveal familiar ills
The pull of local football’s recent transfers has been irresistible. Showing an iron will to succeed, clubs have gone about business with a refreshing enthusiasm.
While record champions SC Villa came up with a piece of work that is a throwback to the Stone Age (the Jogoos left Villa Park’s door ajar for any aspiring player to undergo trials), other clubs have brought a dash of care and thoughtfulness to their recruiting processes.
Vipers SC and KCCA FC fans, for instance, cannot claim to have endured such unmerited and humiliating torture as have their Villa counterparts. While the elusiveness of a 21st century mindset means that Villa will not quite manage to regain its verve, the Venoms and Kasasiro Boys can pride themselves on the rigour of an approach that will undoubtedly see them continue making measurable strides.
Elsewhere, there are also others in the chasing pack -- the likes of URA FC -- whose rough-on-the edges exterior belies the brightness within their approach to the offseason.
Others like Proline have managed to get fresh resonance despite operating on a shoestring budget. Loan acquisitions of players like Hassan Matovu and Bernard Muwanga have seen the Lugogo-based club strengthen in areas that they needed to.
Taking care of business in the transfer market is a work of considerable difficulty and danger. A scattergun approach should be used with considerable misgiving.
The general consensus is that such a scenario can be avoided if a team’s technical backroom staff is given broad latitude.
Interference from the boardroom is always unfailingly counterproductive. It is, however, hardly a secret that the distinctions between boardroom and backroom staff at Vipers have gradually blurred.
The recent purchase of Muhammad Shaban has crystallised fears that powers of the technical team in Kitende are being usurped.
Observers have set out the problem as they have seen it: which is that the striker, who joined from Raja Casablanca, is widely seen as a Lawrence Mulindwa buy.
Did Vipers need to strengthen in the striking department? Appearing on NTV’s premier sports talkshow, Press Box, Charles Ayiekoh said he thought not.
The former Hippos assistant coach, who also coaches MUBS Nakawa Beach Soccer team, added that such overlaps in the recruitment process don’t usually bode well.
What we now know....
We know Uganda yesterday opened its account in the ongoing Cecafa Under-15 Championship.
The tournament is raging on in Ethiopia with Uganda going in Group B alongside Ethiopia (whom they faced yesterday), Rwanda, and South Sudan.
We also know that a fascinating footnote is that Fufa president Moses Magogo’s son, Shafiq Magogo is part of the 20 players coach Jackson Magera will be turning to in a bid to make inroads during the regional youth football showpiece.