Kabagambe, Wagaluka and Kayizzi were exciting wingers

Sunday March 07 2021
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Man Down. Kayizzi (L) leaves his Benin opponent for dead during a 2010 Afcon qualifier.

By Robert Mugagga

DAN WAGALUKA

Wagaluka is probably the only Ugandan that has ever played against Liverpool and this happened in August 2008 during trials with Scottish side Inverness Caledonian Thistle.  During the two-week trial, Wagaluka, who had also been linked to Hearts played for Inverness in the Barry Wilson testimonial against Liverpool.

At the end of the trial at Inverness, the manager Craig Brewster said he was impressed by the Ugandan player’s performance but couldn’t sign him considering the cost and work permit details. During his career, Wagaluka proved such a speedy winger who scored vital goals for club and country. He was such an admired player that in March 2008, an official of Rwanda’s Atraco, Jean Marie Ntagwabina, rated Wagaluka as being the best right winger in the region.

The remark came at the time when Atraco announced a planned double swoop of two URA stars Wagaluka and Hamis Kitagenda in a bid to keep their league title hopes alive.

Despite having the biggest squad in the Rwanda league, Atraco technical team praised Wagaluka for being such a quality player who would add a lot to their team.

It appeared that they still remembered the way Wagaluka had dismantled the much-feared APR during the 2005 Cecafa Kagame Cup in Tanzania.

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He was also stellar for Uganda Cranes in the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup that year as he tormented Rwanda’s Amavubi Stars.

Wagaluka continued being a big attraction throughout East Africa when in July 2013 he expressed joy after finally sealing his much publicized move to AFC Leopards of Kenya.

“I am very happy to join AFC Leopards. I really wanted to play for this club which would help me get my national career back on track,” he said at the time.  Another Kenyan club, Western Stima, had tried to sign Wagaluka but failed and thereafter issued a statement saying that the player’s asking price was too high.

Born on the Christmas day 19786, Wagaluka first hit soccer limelight when summoned to the Uganda U-20 youth team and later the U-23. He was one of the youthful upcoming stars former SC Villa coach Micho Sredojevic targeted to build his future team alongside others like Andy Mwesigwa, Auguistine Nsumba and Patrick Ochan.

At Villa Park, Wagaluka won three league titles and the 2005 Cecafa Kagame Cup before crossing over to URA in 2007 where he was part of the team that clinched that season’s league title. 

He also played for Lweza, Soana, Maroons, Tanzania’s Azam and APR of Rwanda among other clubs. 

For Uganda, Wagaluka played his heart out during most Afcon and World Cup qualifiers between 2008 and 2012. 

He was in the Cranes team that managed wins against stubborn national sides like Benin (2-1), Angola (3-1), Niger (1-0) and drawing 1-1 with high flying Senegal.

It was actually Wagaluka that scored the Cranes third 73rd minute goal against Angola on June 14, 2008 in a World Cup qualifier.

Wagaluka reinforced the Cranes outfit at the time when stars like David Obua, Nestroy Kizito and Ibrahim Ssekagya were absent.

However, he missed the 2011 Chan campaign preferring to go to Ethiopia where he had a deal with St. George fall through.

WAGALUKA FACTFILE (ACHIEVEMENTS) 

λ  He played for Iganga TC, SC Villa, URA, Lweza, Soana, Maroons, Azam (Tanzania), APR (Rwanda) and AFC Leopards (Kenya)

λ He won the 2005 CECAFA-Kagame cup with SC Villa

λ He won the 2007 league title with URA

λ He had trials at Scottish side Inverness Caledonian in 2008.

λ During trials he played for Inverness Caledonian in testimonial match against Liverpool.

λ He consistently played for the Cranes in the Afcon and World Cup qualifiers between 2008 and 2012.

λ He won the Rwanda league with APR in 2012.

VINCENT KAYIZZI

Just like Wagaluka and Kabagambe, Vincent Kayizzi was a speedy right winger who mastered the art of crossing the ball in an era when wide players had to.

Kayizzi was one player that played extensively in Uganda and beyond with his footballing talent enabling him to put on colours of Ugandan heavy weight clubs like KCCA, URA, Vipers and Express.

He also traversed the world going as far as Serbia to feature for Novi Pazar and FK Srem plus Polish side Motor Lublin.

Rwanda and DR Congo were not spared from the Kayizzi show. Born in Masaka, Kayizzi first gained prominence in the district while Ssaza Primary School then Masaka SSS and St. Charles Lwanga Kasasa.

His immense talent was however exposed when he crossed to Kampala just like Frank Kyazze and Tony Mawejje did. 

In Kampala, Kayizzi joined Standard High Zzana. It was here in 2003 that Kayizzi featured in a friendly against Police. That’s the day he was spotted.

Former Cranes and KCCA star Sam Ssimbwa played a big part in connecting him to KCCA. They signed him and started paying his school fees even though it took a century before they fielded him.

No one could blame KCCA for putting the talented boy on the bench for such a long time. All that he did was train at Lugogo and return to school

After nearly two years of that routine, Kayizzi earned his debut, coming on as a substitute to score an equalizer in a 2-2 draw with Villa.

A year later, Kayizzi gained a starting position at KCCA. In an interview, Kayizzi admitted having been a lousy winger who could hardly curve nice balls to opponents’ goal area.

He disclosed that it was Kabagambe, his former schoolmate at Standard High that taught him the ABC of crossing balls.

In 2015, Kayizzi moved to Vipers where he won that season’s league title only to be offloaded at the end of the campaign.

He joined Express where he had a short spell before rejoining KCCA. There, he won the league and cup double in 2016-2017. They retained the league title.

Besides KCCA, Kayizzi helped Kyetume gain promotion. He also prominently featured in a number of Afcon and World Cup qualifiers between 2008 and 2014.

In that time, Kayizzi won the 2009 and 2012 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cups.

KAYIZZI FACTFIlE (ACHIEVEMENTS)

λ He played for KCCA, Vipers, URA and Express 

λ He went to Europe and pllayed for FK Srem and Novi Pazar (Serbia), plus Motor Lublin of Poland

λ He helped Novi Pazar of Serbia win promotion to the country’s second tie league.

λ He won a double at KCCA in the 2016-17 league season. 

λ He won the league with KCCA in 2018

λ He won the Uganda cup with KCCA in 2004

λ He won the 2015 league title with Vipers FC

λ He captained Kyetume FC to Premier League promotion in 2019.

λ He won the 2009 Cecafa Senior Challenge title with Cranes. 

JOSEPH KABAGAMBE

Born in Mubare Sub County, in Kabale district, Kabagambe came from a region not known for producing many outstanding footballers. He made it against the odds.

Kabagambe didn’t forget his roots. At the peak of his career, he once went back to Kabale to inspire upcoming footballers by telling them that patience was the magic they needed.

He was then highly rated among Ugandan best right wingers who proved so good at crossing the ball while he was at the same time superb at executing free kicks.

It was for this reason that fellow players used to refer to him as “The Beckham of Uganda”.

Kabagambe attended Dynamic SSS and later Standard High Zzana from where he is said to have been spotted by a Police officer, a one Oburu, who later brought him to Kibuli-based Aston Villa that acted at Police’s feeder team.

Veteran coach Stephen Gayige (RIP) referred him to Horizon of Kabale where goal poacher Geoffrey Sserunkuuma once featured.

In 2001, Kabagambe returned to Kampala, the ‘Mecca’ of Ugandan football, to join Villa. There, he won the 2003 and 2004 league titles and the Cecafa Kagame Cup.

Towards the end of 2018 season, Kabagambe crossed the border to Rwanda and signed for Atraco where he won a league title. During his career he also featured for Sudanese clubs like Al Neel, Al Hasahisa, Al Rabita Kasiti and Al Merreikh-El Fasha based in Darfur region (not the Merreikh of Khartoum).

At Al Meriekh -El Fasha Kabagambe excelled and became a darling of the fans. During the 2013 Cecafa Kagame Cup in Sudan, Kabagambe played a great game in the quarter finals helping Al Merreikh-El Fasher to beat Al Ahly Shendi. 

At the end of the match, Kabagambe was carried shoulder-high by teammates and fans with the Darfur town centre being thrown into wild celebration.

In an earlier group stage match against APR, Kabagambe played a key role when his club earned a hard fought 1-1 draw.

Commenting about that sparkling form, Kabagambe said he was doing his level best to win a recall to the Uganda Cranes.

His efforts were rewarded two months later when he was named in coach Micho’s 31-man squad for a buildup encounter against Egypt though he was later ruled out by club duties. 

In June 2017, he switched allegiance to Western Stima in the Kenyan Premier league joining other Ugandans like Allan Kateregga, Dan Sserunkuuma and Musa Mudde.

For Uganda, Kabagambe first played for the U-20 youth team before earning a promotion to the senior Cranes team in May 2008 when he was called to bolster the Cranes right wing against Niger.

In 2010, while turning out for Sudanese Al Neel, he was excluded from the national team with coach Bobby Williamson giving an excuse that he could then not monitor his form.

The Cranes were due to face Angola in a 2012 Afcon qualifying game. Kabagambe retired in 2017.

KABAGAMBE FACTFILE (ACHIEVEMENTS)

λ He played for Horizon, SC Villa and Kiira Young in Uganda.

λ The foreign clubs he played for include Atlaco of Rwanda, Al Neel, Al Hasahasa, Al Marriekh-al Fasha and Al Rabita Kasiti all of Sudan and Western Stima of Kenya

λ In Ugandan football, he is rated among Uganda’s best crossers of the ball.

λ He won the league with SC Villa in 2003 and 2004.

λ He won the 2003 CECAFA-Kagame Cup with SC Villa.

λ While with Atraco he won one Rwanda league title.

λ He played for Uganda U-20 national youth team   

λ He was in 2008 called upon to bolster the Cranes right wing ahead of tough qualifiers.

What others say 

Andrew Jackson Oryada (Caf Media Officer)

Kabagambe was more talented of the three and a better crosser of the ball. Wagaluka was more industrious and had a good workrate. Kayizzi falls in between – a bit of talent and when he meant to work, he would really work.  He had the will to cross the ball for as long as he had strikers on the pitch.  

Fred Katende Malibu (Veteran journalist)

I worked with all three when I was the Cranes media officer. Wagaluka was the fastest and able to get involved in interplay. Kayizzi was better than all three in his ability to help the right back defend plus a more accurate crosser. Kabagambe was the best dribbler. I pick Wagaluka as the best.

 Ismail Dhakaba Kigongo (NMG Head of Sports)

Kayizzi was the best crosser of the ball among the three and the more tactically aware. Kabagambe always worked to be the star of the team with style and beating opponents. Wagaluka’s biggest weapon was his speed and the knack for goals both for club and country. Of the three, I pick Kabagambe. 

John Batanudde (NMG photojournalist)  

On the delivery, Kabagambe was the best of the trio. Wagaluka was very hardworking despite his being undersized. Kayizzi used the ball better overall. Kabagambe gave you more and perhaps achieved more over his career because of the  variety he brought to his game and playing for a strong Villa side. 

Compiled by Innocent Ndawula

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