Waiswa awakens nostalgic promise

Saturday March 27 2021
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Waiswa (right) shields the ball from his Burkina Faso right back Issa Kabore. PHOTO/JOHN BATANUDDE

By Andrew Mwanguhya

Silent lion,” he calls himself. But when allowed space in public view, he roams with panache, grace and class – producing rather beautiful sights and sounds. 

Uganda’s midfield had cried for mobility in the first 45 minutes, with Taddeo Lwanga surviving an early adrenaline rush with a yellow card before legally asserting authority for the reminder of the match.

Burkina Faso big men had limited Mike Azira’s movement going forward, save for a promising ball he put through for attackers Emmanuel Okwi and Patrick Kaddu to deal with.
Silent lion unleased 

Then, credit to coach Abdallah Mubiru and his staff, a double half time substitution saw the introduction of Ibrahim Orit and Moses Waiswa for Abdu Lumala and Azira.

The silent lion, Waiswa, had been let loose. He immediately restored sanity in the middle of the park, taking over proceedings alongside impressive Lwanga.

Save for Bertrand Traore class shining through, Burkinabe veteran skipper Charles Kabore and company were limited to destroyers mode, with Orit and Miya recipients of some of Waiswa’s trademark distributions.

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The Supersport United creative midfielder sprayed them short and long, narrow and wide, all the while his upper body swaying left to right, and back.

The team did their part in the goalless draw at St Mary’s Stadium, Kitende, but it is the second half substitutes that were soon joined by Fahad Bayo – on for injured Kaddu – that amplified any ambitions, with Waiswa a graceful conductor.

This is not the first time the 23-year-old is coming on to attract the international eye. In the goalless draw with Tanzania during the 2019 Afcon qualifiers, former Cranes coach Sebastien Desabre unleashed Waiswa and his passing and movement suggested Uganda had finally got that man.

Unfortunately, as the Cranes prepared for the Egypt 2019 finals in Abu Dhabi, the bad news came in that Waiswa would be out of the tournament with a knee injury, which also delayed his move to SuperSport.

Like he never left
Two years on, the move from Vipers to the South African giants also long completed, Waiswa’s grace was again upon us midweek. And at his former club in 

Kitende on Wednesday, he surely forced his name into coach Mubiru’s starting lineup in Blantyre on Monday.
The Cranes travel by chartered Uganda Airlines flight tomorrow to Malawi for that final battle, where a point is enough to seal a place in Cameroon.

The Malawi Flames will also qualify at the expense of Uganda if they win.

With Lumala visibly far from full fitness after that long injury layoff, Mubiru now has to decide whether Orit keeps his place or brings in more experienced Kizito Luwagga.

Luwagga and Timothy Awany, the Israel-based duo that arrived late because of travel difficulties, sat Wednesday out. 
Their colleague Bayo was instead given a go ahead because Cranes needed goals.

Lwanga-Waiswa midfield 
But the one area Mubiru will not have much headache deciding is Lwanga starting in holding role and Waiswa dictating proceedings next to him.

Should they continue the telepathy they displayed in the second 45 minutes in Kitende, who says they cannot be the future, and current?

If only Miya could recapture his old self of the 2019 Afcon qualifiers and before, where he both influenced play and scored the goals! That would be some midfield trident.

Miya with the goals, Lwanga with industry and tenacity, and Waiswa - who sees spaces where others don’t - with technical finesse.

Obua smitten 
Waiswa’s technical ability is so good it solicited praises from former Uganda Cranes superstar David Obua.

“Moses Waiswa is a technically gifted player,” Obua tweeted after the midfielder’s impressive debut for SuperSport United before Covid-19 hit last year.

“This kid does everything with ease. He’s an artist. The Orcheswtra. I wish they can play him deeper. Get him on the ball more.”

Speaking to SCORE later on, the former KKL youngster, who grew up watching and admiring ex-KCCA player Sadam Juma, could not believe the legend of Obua was in awe of his game.

“Receiving praises from him was exciting and it gave me inspiration to work even harder,” said Waiswa.
“I liked his game, mental strength, attitude and character. He is one of a kind.” 

During that interview, Waiswa – the 2018 Fufa Player of the Year – was also grateful for Desabre.
“He trusted me and gave me roles of taking set pieces,” said Waiswa, the 2017/18 Uganda Premier League (UPL) champion with Vipers.

“He told me to relax and do anything I want with the ball and the Tanzania man of the match performance (0-0 draw at Namboole) was as a result of his instructions.”
Mubiru must have given him similar instructions on Wednesday, and it is hard to imagine a different coding in Blantyre.

Afcon 2021 qualifiers

MONDAY
Malawi     vs.    Uganda
Burkina Faso    vs    South Sudan

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