Captain's call

Thursday April 15 2021
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Larger Than Life. Onyango called time on his international career with Cranes after a series of unfortunate events in the confines of Uganda’s footballing circles. PHOTO/JOHN BATANUDDE

By Andrew Mwanguhya

After over 80 Uganda Cranes caps, winning the best club accolades on the continent, and playing at two Afcon finals, Denis Onyango bowed out this week.
But you will continue seeing him in Mamelodi Sundowns colours in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) in South Africa and in continental club football.
His contract at the 2016 Caf Champions League champions goes on to 2023, and he remains one of the most important players at Masandawana.

In the aftermath of his retirement from the national team on Monday, Daily Monitor caught up with him.
The great captain spoke at length about his decision, career, relationship with Fufa, and president Moses Magogo’s controversial statements about players among others. Even though the timing of his hanging the gloves seemed hurtful and sudden in the eyes of Ugandans, who hold him dearly, the 35-year-old believes it was the right call.
Never mind the above coming less than than two months to the 2022 Qatar World Cup qualifiers.
“There is always going to be something,” Onyango told this newspaper, “Be it World Cup qualifiers, Afcon or something else.

READ: Onyango wanted more family time, to manage his body well

Array of talent
“I believe that it is the time to do so now, I also believe that our national team is well covered on the goalkeeping position, and it is time to give opportunity to the new guys.”
Despite the recent toxicity between Fufa and Cranes players, current and old, which some Ugandans believe contributed to Onyango calling it a day, Africa’s best says it was a decision well-thought out.

“Last year, Covid restrictions and new protocols took me away from my family for many days,” he explained. 
“And as you know my club, Mamelodi Sundowns, is competing on many fronts; league, cups, Caf Champions League. 
“I just feel I need more rest between seasons and that is primarily the reason behind my decision to retire from the national team.”