What you need to know:
- Rift. The Vipers forward riled Fufa by refusing to return a match ball given for his four goals in Uganda Cup final last year.
- Yunus Sentamu has scored 29 goals in the last two league seasons, the most of any UPL player.
- He had in the past also demanded allowances for Cranes tours.
Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic was at pains to explain the absence of Vipers hotshot Yunus Sentamu from his preliminary 33-man squad to prepare for Afcon 2023 duty.
Uganda open their qualifying campaign to the finals due in Ivory Coast next year away to Algeria on June 4 before hosting Niger four days later.
The squad dotted with youngsters like Musa Ramathan, Steven Serwadda, Gavin Kizito, Aziz Kayondo, Bobosi Byaruhanga, Yiga Najib and Derrick Kazooza includes 20-year-old goalkeeper Giousue Bellagambi of Huddlesfield Town in the England.
But the standout name missing as the Cranes started their residential camp in Kampala yesterday is Sentamu.
The Vipers striker, who was ignored at one point last year despite being the league’s top scorer, again misses out despite his 14 goals for the national champions in the just ended campaign. He also has five in the Uganda Cup.
Only Onduparaka’s Shaban Muhammad (15) and Sentamu’s Vipers teammate Caesar Manzoki (18) have scored more goals in the league.
“It’s for personal reasons as explained by the player to me. For now I’m concentrating on the players in camp. Yunus is my son and I love him and the door remains open whenever he is ready,” Micho told Daily Monitor.
However, Monitor is privy to a trail that shows Sentamu is dissatisfied with how Fufa handle some of the player businesses, rights and welfare.
In the run-up to the Fufa Awards last December, Sentamu was asked by organisers to do a promotion for Airtel but he declined, saying Airtel should pay him.
That did not go down well with Fufa, who scrapped his name from the list, saying he did not honour obligations to the sponsor. He was replaced with left back Kayondo, and also scrapped off the UPL Best XI list at the awards.
Sentamu would then score four goals in the 8-1 thumping of Bul in the Uganda Cup final. He was handed a new ball at the end of the game for his exploits, as is the norm for three or more goals in one game.
Fufa asked Sentamu to return the ball, explaining that the act was just a formality, but the player refused and kept his souvenir. That irked Fufa.
Then came the January tour of Turkey, Bahrain and Iraq. Players were promised allowances but at least three of those who spoke to Monitor said there was no pay.
Some players wanted to strike over the allowance, arguing that they left their families for 22 days without upkeep.
However, Micho still summoned Sentamu for the next trip two months later in Uzbekistan.
But Sentamu refused to travel, telling close friends his decision was because Fufa hadn’t cleared their pending arrears. He told Micho that he was injured.
When Daily Monitor sought the player out on his status for Cranes and whether it really bothers him that he is not in the squad, he said: “I’m happy at Vipers and enjoying myself. That’s what matters.”
Appearing on NTV’s rebranded Sport Knights recently, Micho said hosts for such invitational tournaments take care of most expenses.
Asked by this newspaper to respond to the players reported unpaid arrears, Fufa spokesperson Ahmed Hussein offered a brief “no comment.”
Goalkeepers: C. Lukwago, G. Bellagambi, N. Alionzi
Defenders: E. Bwomono, G. Kizito,
J. Begisa, I. Muleme, A. Kayondo,
B. Mugabi, T. Awanyi, H. Lwaliwa,
R. Musa, L. Mulondo, E. Walusimbi,
Midfielders: K. Aucho, B. Byaruhanga Bobosi, Y. Marvin, S. Serwadda, M. Mutyaba, R. Mato, F. Miya, A. Okello
Forwards: M. Karisa, M. Aliro, H. Kiwanuka, N. Yiga, A. Kyambadde, M. Kizza, E. Okwi, F. Bayo, S. Anaku, D. Kakooza, S. Mohammad
amwanguhya @ug. nationmedia. com