If being asked to run the rule over the Cranes was supposed to turn Abdallah Mubiru’s insides to jelly, a media interview the unassuming coach gave this past week indicates otherwise. In the interview conducted by Fufa’s media and communication team, the appetite for a fight appears to be there. Mubiru also tentatively acknowledges the awkward position in which Fufa put him after sending Johnny McKinstry on gardening leave.
The Northern Irishman recently shared statistics on his social media platforms that seem to question why his employer has treated him dismissively. The statistics that have until now gone largely unnoticed indicate that there has been a marked improvement in the Cranes’ win percentage under his stewardship.
Using the same number of games he has overseen as Cranes coach, McKinstry and his representatives came up with before (33 percent) and after (67 percent) win percentage points that had such a yawning chasm.
On account of the striking difference, the temptation to have McKinstry credentialed as a tough act to follow is overbearing. The numbers suggest as much. Yet observers who are eager to explore the less illustrious side of McKinstry (of which there appear to be many) will hasten to add that numbers don’t bleed.
While he doesn’t belong to this school of thought, Mubiru will be the first to admit that it is premature to read too much into numbers. It after all was not long ago that the perplexities of a numbers game occurred to the courteous and soft-spoken coach.
It was not possible to recognise the cunning that wrong-footed many opponents during the Chan qualifiers in 2019 without glossing over Mubiru’s less savoury side. Lest we forget, the current Cranes interim coach almost suffered a damaging setback when Police flirted with relegation from the StarTimes Uganda Premier League.
The Cops eventually beat the drop, barely. The baleful silence that attends Mubiru’s travails on the domestic scene before the pandemic struck should not be held against him. But it just goes to show how swiftly a calm outlook can tailspin into chaos.
It could also explain why the idea of suspending McKinstry has struck Mubiru as ludicrous. While the latter has not come out to say as much, subtle hints have been dropped. After all, Police gave him what Fufa could not (or is it cannot?) afford McKinstry – time and the benefit of the doubt. It could also be that Mubiru is under no illusions. The player power that is rumoured to have put McKinstry in the cross hairs is still alive and well.
Whatever the case, Mubiru knows that he has a golden opportunity to make a case for local coaches during next week’s set of Afcon qualifiers. If the Cranes improve only modestly on McKinstry’s recent dire performances, there will be a tentativeness about going local. We could essentially relive what happened to Moses Basena. The “see you soon” in Seb Desabre’s widely shared tweet will gain more currency.
Just in case you forgot, Desabre was handed the Cranes coaching reins even after Basena engineered a 1-0 win against Egypt in a polished display. Basena made the shortlist when Fufa invited applicants to have a crack at the Cranes job. The writing was, however, on the wall. Just not to Basena, though. If lightning strikes twice, expect normal service to resume after Mubiru has whined fleetingly.