KAMPALA- Three’s a crowd, so goes the old English adage. But it is inexplicably right that it is possible for someone to miss the presence of coach Morley Byekwaso in a small gathering of less than 10 people.
For instance, Byekwaso watches his European football inside Game Lugogo on the on-sale display screens not your overly hyped sports pubs, shares banter with the least knowledgeable of fans in the Kirussia on days when KCCA is not in action and can be a lonely figure in the stands when he comes to the oval to catch some cricket action.
Such is Byekwaso’s character. He prefers a laid back approach to everything, one that is very far away from the flashing lights, yet the situation demands else for a man of his calibre.
Call it fate but for a player so talented, Byekwaso rarely gets mentioned among the best of his era, including the famous Uganda U-23 Kobs side that reached the All Africa Games semifinals in South Africa 1999.
Leaving a mark
And yet in his heyday, the ambidextrous Byekwaso played on either flank and as an attacking midfielder or second striker for the then Big Three; SC Villa, Express and KCCA – who religiously fought for his signature.
A coaches’ favourite because of admirable work ethic and piercing long range shots, his game only lacked statistics to match his talent.
You cannot fault him for not possessing those desirable numbers as he always looked to pass the ball to better-positioned teammates in zones many of his peers back and many today opt to go for glory.
That perhaps mirrored his character as a person. Quiet and laid back. Nothing has changed even after he was thrust into coaching roles.
You could hardly notice his brilliance or effort. Byekwaso’s teams have never been as flamboyant as he was as a player.
And yet success stories have always found a way into his life-script. He was assistant to Matia Lule at KCCA in 2010 and later took over before the return of George ‘Best’ Nsimbe.
In 2012, he was assistant to Nsimbe before moving to Victoria University the following year where he was the first assistant coach to Alex Isabirye and later took over as head coach.
He briefly moved to Simba in 2015 after Victoria University wound up before KCCA prized him out of the wilderness to replace Sam Ssimbwa in 2016.
At Victoria University, he missed out on winning the league title by one point to KCCA in 2013 but as head coach, he grabbed a biggie with victory over AFC Leopards in the final of the Nile Basin Cup.
In between that stint, there was a Uganda Cup accolade and a Caf Confederation Cup appearance despite elimination to Congolese outfit Don Bosco in the 2014 preliminary round.
Coaching into greatness
Now the stint as the Uganda U-20 Hippos Manager, hasn't changed the amiable Luzira-born gaffer Byekwaso but evidently forced him out his comfort zone as a footnote to the success he had as a player.
Here, he is Luciano Pavarotti - not just any other violinist at the Beethoven Festival -the main act with a full arena waiting to see how he brings the roof down in stellar fashion.
And for a man who made his Cranes debut against Ethiopia as a 20-year-old at the 1998 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, it has been a great sight, seeing the Hippos; against all odds, showing heart and playing purposeful football to reach tonight’s epic final against Ghana.
The icing on the cake will be these young men and their youthful dugout comprising of Simeon Masaba and Billy Kiggundu, who started out their campaign in Mauritania as mere participants, return home as chest-thumping champions.
Byekwaso will no longer be a back bencher but a permanent front seat will be accorded to him and more so, national hero status.
AT A GLANCE
Full Names: Morley Byekwaso Ochama
Date of Birth: December 20, 1978
Coaching License: Caf A
Preferred formation: 4-3-3
Current Job: Head coach Uganda U-20
Assistant Coach KCCA
Appointed: January 2021
Clubs coached: KCCA, Victoria University, Simba