URA coach Sam Ssimbwa has never shied away from expressing his true feelings. He was not any different while appearing on NTV Press Box on Monday night.
The controversial but who would rather be called ‘principled’, Ssimbwa, tore through a wide range of topics with reckless abandon.
It wasn’t me
Ssimbwa effortlessly dismissed a 2016 audio recording where he reportedly said he bribed referees to win games.
That audio landed him an eight-month ban from Fufa, including being sacked by KCCA.
“They alleged I said that those things,” said Ssimbwa, “But that was not me.
“For example, some people speak like the president,” added the 53-year-old,
Mulindwa or Magogo?
He also wasted no time in proclaiming Moses Magogo’s predecessor, Lawrence Mulindwa, is the best Fufa president in his opinion. “Mulindwa did a lot especially because he was using his own money, and there was no money at the time,” said Ssimbwa.
“But today,” he added, “Fufa gets millions from Fifa, billions from government.”
When pushed that actually, that would mean Magogo’s Fufa has done well, the reason he is getting better funding from the Government, Ssimbwa agreed, but concluded “Mulindwa was the best.”
Then came the seasonal topic that pops up at every Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) and African Nations Championship (Chan) finals edition.
Trust local coaches
Seven of the last eight coaches at the just ended Chan are local, with former Cranes boss, now in charge of Zambia, Micho Sredojevic the only foreign manager. And for the fifth successive time, Uganda were led at the finals by a foreign coach, McKinstry, who came after Frenchman Sebastien Desabre, Serbian and Scotsman Bobby Williamson.
Like them, McKinstry never made it past the group stage with Cranes, drawing goalless with Rwanda, losing 2-1 and 5-2 to Togo and Morocco respectively.
Asked on Uganda’s performance in Cameroon and whether McKinstry, like any coach would prefer, deserves patience to impart his ideals on the team, Ssimbwa had another school of thought. “The problem is we bring managers to coach,” said Ssimbwa, “Most of the big teams in Europe have managers but also have many coaches who do the coaching. “McKinstry is a manager. And by the way, for me, if you remember, the team was playing well under Mubiru (interim basis) before McKinstry took over.”
Abdallah Mubiru’s Cranes team dispatched both Somalia and Burundi home and away to qualify for Chan, scoring 10 against two.
He also led the local based Cranes in Cosafa as a guest team, losing to Lesotho and South Africa on spot kicks. Uganda also drew 1-1 in a friendly with Kenya.
“In my opinion, he should have been the one in charge in Cameroon.”
But he was McKinstry’s assistant, the Press Box panel countered. “Yes, but assistants really don’t do much.
“Ugandan assistants to foreign coaches are only there to earn a living. They don’t offer much or they are not listened to.”
Ssimbwa was one time assistant to Cranes coaches Muhammad Abbas, Lazlo Csaba and Bobby Williamson.
“Sometimes you don’t want to be seen speaking privately to a player. The head coach would ask what you are talking about,” Ssimbwa claimed.
The former Mbale Heroes, Express, SC Villa, KCCA and Sofapaka coach challenged Fufa to trust local coaches more.
“We have the qualifications. I have a Caf A license, which is an equivalent of Uefa A, and I’ve coached at big teams, what prevents me from coaching the national team?” Does he want McKinstry’s job? “If it became available, why not? For us coaches, the national team is the apex.”
For now, though, Ssimbwa had an immediate task at hand, and that is helping URA to the league title.
SSIMBWA AT A GLANCE
- Advanced license from Germany (DFB) in 1996
- Caf A license
1999: Kakungulu Cup with Mbale Heroes
2007: Kakungulu Cup with Express
2012: Super League with Express, the club’s first in 16 years