Nkaada, Katumba, Muyanja:  No nonsense man-marking men

Saturday January 16 2021
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As Tough As Iron. Nkaada, nicknamed Iron Man, was revered for his hard tackling style. In his prime, opposing strikers chose not to have their legs taken out and ended up distracted from their primary task of scoring. PHOTO/ COURTESY

By Robert Mugagga

                                                                      
ISAAC ‘IRON MAN’ NKAADA

Coming from a village team and storming the capital Kampala and capture the imagination at giants Express and the national tea, Nkaada surprised everyone. 
An aggressive centre back who kept the sharpest strikers at bay, he earned the nickname “Ironman”. 

Nkaada was undoubtedly one of the most feared defenders of his generation, a real hard tackler that can be compared to UEB FC and Cranes’ Henry Matte of the 60 and 70s. 
CBS FM and NTV sports presenter David Lumansi often tells a story about Nkaada and how during one league match between Express and KCCA dangerously charged at KCCA’s diminutive Wilber Musika as he ran to score. 

Express fans cheered Nkaada as he raced to take care of Musika and when the striker turned around and saw the way Nkaada was coming at him, he abandoned his plan and deserted the ball amid deafening cheers. 

Also, during a league match between Express and Buikwe Red Stars, Nkaada aimed to crash one Buikwe striker near the right corner flag. 

Sensing danger, the Buikwe striker ran out of the pitch in order to survive Nkaada’s wrath with the defender’s leg instead smashing to pieces the wooden corner flag! 
Unlike other prominent Ugandan players whose footballing careers began in an organized way, Nkaada, having dropped out of school during primary level only played part-time football. 

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His team was from Kyabadza village in Butambala district while at the same time making ends meet by engaging in farming and trade. 

Not to be cheated by middlemen, the Ironman would occasionally come to Kampala to sell farm produce that mainly consisted of ginger. 

Word soon went around in the Express camp about a Butambala farmer that occasionally played good football for his village team. 

This was how Express came to recruit Nkaada in the mid-80s. Nkaada arrived at the right time and was part of the team that defeated KCCA FC 3-1 to win the Uganda Cup, their first major trophy since 1975. 

That side had skipper Fred Mukasa, Paul Nkata, Joachim Matovu, Dan Lutalo, Patrick Kigongo, and George Serunjogi among others. 

Nkaada went on to play for Express up to 1993 when he was replaced by a new enterprising centre back in Philip Obwin during the era of David Otti as coach. 
He was so influential in the Express team that in 1991 he captained them to that season’s Uganda Cup title. 

Jackson Mayanja, who played for KCCA as Nkaada was at Express, describes him as a no nonsense defender. 

“I will never forget the day during a league match between KCCA and Express when Nkaada confronted and almost finished off our striker Henry Bwire. The tackle was so serious that Bwire had to be carried off the pitch groaning,” Mayanja recalls. 

Otherwise, Mayanja credits Nkaada for having been so disciplined off the pitch. Nkaada will go down in history for having been among the oldest players to be selected for the Cranes team. He was 28 when he made his Cranes debut in 1988. 

Coach Robert Kiberu included him for a friendly match against Zambia and indeed had a good partnership with skipper John Latigo. 

When Polly Ouma took over the national team, he maintained Nkaada in the team that went on to win the 1989 Cecafa title in Kenya, it was first title in 12 years. Nkaada was to be dropped from the national team three years later at the age of 31. 

 NKAADA FACTFILE
 (ACHIEVEMENTS)

- He won the 1993 league with Express FC
- He won  Uganda cup with Express in  1985, 1991 and 1992
- He captained Express to win the 1991 Uganda Cup
- His debut match for the Cranes came in 1988 at advanced age of 28
- He was part of the Cranes team that won the 1989 CECAFA staged in Kenya
- He was part of the Ngabi clan team that won the 1987 Bika soccer title
- Captained Buganda to 1989 regional soccer title
CHARLES KATUMBA
Katumba had hair, all the hair all over the body, and this made him easily recognizable. His KCCA teammates nicknamed him Mustapha Nagd after that no nonsense Al Hilal captain. 
He joined KCCA in the early 80s from Nsambya FC which is a stone throw from the Katwe nieghbourhood which groomed him. 

An ambidextrous Katumba featured in different positions, most notably at left back and central defence. 

At his new club, he proved so useful and could be rotated everywhere in defence. Former KCCA teammate, Peter Mazinga still reminisces about Katumba’s aggression. 

“He would not only defend but at times moved forward and often scored goals especially from corner kicks. Katumba was equally good at heading balls out of danger and at the same time heading them into the opponents’ net,” Mazinga remarks. 

Katumba would switch roles with the likes of  Latigo, Yusuf Ssonko, Masiko , Peter Wandyette and Lwanga. 

Another former teammate, Sam Mugambe, says the late Katumba became known for defending and getting rid of opponents using his elbow. 

“Being able to use both legs so effectively helped him traverse all corners of the pitch so easily. 

Katumba was one defender that would run after an opponent to whom he happened to lose the ball even if it meant wrestling him down for the team to concede a penalty rather than allowing him score an easy goal,” says Mugambe. 

Katumba won the league in 1983 and 1985 plus the Uganda Cup in 1984. His contribution is revered for KCCA’s success in the 1985 African Cup Winners Cup. 

In second round matches between KCCA and Gweru United of Zimbabwe, he created all the three goals to enable his side win 3-1 away in Bulawayo and advance to the quarter final. 

Time came when SC Villa strongman Patrick Kawooya eyed and sweet talked him into moving to Villa Park just like he did to other former KCCA players like Godfrey Kateregga and John Kaweesi among others. 

In 1986, Katumba left KCCA for SC Villa in a hotly contested player transfer. 
In the national team, he played a number of matches for the Cranes in Cecafa tournaments and but sadly never won any title in national team colours. 

He was part of the Cranes team that in May 1983 shocked Africa’s 1982 World Cup representatives Algeria 4-1 at Nakivubo. 
It also an Olympic Games qualifier.  

On a sad note, he gifted Cameroon’s Omam Biyik an easy goal that eliminated the Cranes from the 1988 Afcon qualifiers. 
After joining KCCA, Cranes coach Peter Okee easily noticed and summoned him, like he had always done with such players that originally belonged to the smaller clubs. 

KATUMBA FACTFILE
(ACHIEVEMENTS)

- He played for Nsambya, KCCA and SC Villa
- He won the league with KCCA in 1983 and 1985
- He won the Uganda Cup with KCCA FC in 1984
- He won the league with SC Villa in 1986, 1987 and 1988
- He coached Bunamwaya FC among other clubs
- He was good at defending and heading out balls 
- He would make overlaps and score 
- He could play in multiple positions at the back. 
- He was a right back when the Cranes defeated Algeria 4-1 in the 1983 Olympic qualifier at Nakivubo

DERRICK MUYANJA
Muyanja nicknamed “Inspector Derrick” after those UBC TV series of the 80s and 90s for the way he manned the KCCA central defence.  It ‘mirrored’ the way German actor Herman Hertzog, named Inspector Derrick, investigated complicated cases skilfully. Muyanja belongs to that club of players that played for only one club during his entire career – KCCA. A war to sign him broke out between giant clubs, KCCA and SC Villa with the former coming on top. 

By coincidence, KCCA happened to be Muyanja’s childhood favourite club during the time he attended St. Henry’s College Kitovu in Masaka for his O-Level. 
Kitovu helped Muyanja improve on his game like it did to other outstanding players like Ouma, Obadiah Ssemakula, David Obua, Sam Mukasa, Smooky Byaruhanga to mention a few. 
After completing his O-Level at Kitovu, Muyanja opted for another footballing powerhouse in Kampala, Kibuli SSS, where his glittering talent was further exposed. 
His league debut at KCCA came at the beginning of the 1990 season when former Uganda international Tom Lwanga was coach. 

According to Lwanga, Muyanja was one remarkable man marker, someone the coach would assign to blunt particular star strikers out of the game and would accomplish the mission satisfactorily. 

Praising Muyanja’s game as well is the current UPDF FC coach Kefa Kisala who played alongside him in the KCCA team of 1998 which he joined from Express. 

“Muyanja was one of the very few disciplined footballers and notably defenders I have ever seen. He was so influential in the team and such a wonder man marker,” Kisala reminisces. Kisala’s deputy at UPDF, Pius Ngabo, simply describes Muyanja having been a fine defender and ball player who defended so well without necessarily injuring opponents.  Surprisingly during his 10-year career, Muyanja never received a single red card despite being a defender.  

He belongs to a category comprising other prominent defenders like Ibrahim Dafala and Jimmy Kirunda that were never sent off.  Muyanja spent a decade at Lugogo playing an influential role in KCCA winning two league titles and two Uganda Cups. In 1993 many were surprised to see Muyanja taking the mantle as KCCA captain from veteran Charles Masiko and yet he had been at the club for hardly three seasons. 
 
As KCCA captain, he started with a bang leading the Kasasiro Boys to the 1993 Uganda Cup victory. 

Mayanja, to whom Muyanja surrendered the club’s arm band in 1995 when he returned  from a professional stint in North Africa, remarked that being disciplined was one secret that helped Muyanja’s game flourish. “He was hardworking, so speedy and above all so energetic,” he says. Apart from KCCA, Muyanja played for the national youth team and later Cranes. 

If it wasn’t for that persistent ankle injury he would have played an influential part in the Cranes team. 
For instance, in 1993 he was summoned to the Cranes camp for a tough Afcon qualifier against Nigeria but had to be released a few days to the game as the injury persisted. 


MUYANJA FACTFILE 
(ACHIEVEMENTS)

- Excelled for St. Henry Kitovu and Kibuli SSS in school events.
- He joined KCCA FC in 1990 straight from Kibuli SSS.
- Won league in 1991 and 1997.
- Won the Uganda Cup with KCCA in 1990 and 1993.
- Took KCCA FC armband from Charles Masiko in 1993.
-Captained KCCA FC to the 1993 Uganda Cup triumph.
- Was the understudy player for Ibrahim Sekagya at KCCA FC.
- Played for national youth team
- Played for the Cranes team
- Was a disciplined player who never received marching orders

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