Otti wishes he can tread successful path with Cranes

Uganda Cranes head coach Paul Put (R)talks to defender Ronald Otti. PHOTO/EDDIE CHICCO 

What you need to know:

Having missed out in Paul Put's initial 28-man squad to face Botswana and Algeria in the World Cup qualifiers  named on May 23, Otti set about planning for a long holiday. 

A wild card late summon doesn't rule out the fact that Bul hard-as-nails defender Ronald Otti had made a real case to be in Uganda Cranes squad. 

In fact, the majority of authoritative pundits and reporters named Otti in their StarTimes Uganda Premier League respective 'best XI' teams after a season that saw Bul defy the odds to finish second behind SC Villa. 

Having missed out in Paul Put's initial 28-man squad to face Botswana and Algeria in the World Cup qualifiers  named on May 23, Otti set about planning for a long holiday. 

"I had been put on alert by Cranes manager Paul Mukatabala that a national team call up was pending but when I saw the list without my name, I knew it was another heartbreak, " Otti, who replaced Scotland based defender Bevis Mugabi in the Cranes fold, revealed. 

His delight was loud when two days later a phone call and an invitation came through telling him to prepare to join the Cranes camp in Kisaasi on Thursday after Mugabi withdrew for personal reasons. 

"I was so shocked because I had lost hope but had remained prayerful. It's every player's dream to represent their national team and I can't wait for the opportunity to serve Uganda, " Otti said. 

The same window of opportunity also opened for Soltilo Bright Stars 13-goal hero Nelson Senkatuka who was drafted in late to replace Port Vale striker Ipkezu Mubiru who shunned the Cranes call for the third time. 

Here to stay

Otti, in his mid 20s, is targeting the continuation of his meteoric rise with Bul and Cranes by cementing a spot in Put's national team revival project that offered a clean slate to all players. 

The closest he had come to the national team was last year when then Cranes Serbian coach Micho Sredojevic allowed him to train with the Cranes team set to face Algeria in Cameroon before was dropped. 

He also featured for the local based team in the maligned nationwide tours dubbed 'Namutima' when a selected Cranes team played Buganda region selected team in Luweero.

Otti made 20 league appearances for Abbey Kikomeko's Bul, scoring one goal and collecting three man-of-the-match gongs against Vipers at Kitende,  SC Villa at Wankulukuku and KCCA at Lugogo.

"I believe I can force my way into the starting set up if I impress the coach with mature performances. 

"I already have friends in the national team that will help me settle in fast like skipper Khalid Aucho, Kenneth Ssemakula and Halid Lwaliwa who I think is the best defender in Uganda at the moment," he added. 

Interestingly, Otti will battle friends Ssemakula and Lwaliwa for a starting berth. 

There will be more sterner competition from the established Timothy Awany (FC Ashdod, Israel) and new kid on the block Capradossi Elio (Calcio Lecco FC, Italy). 

Sekagya path to greatness

Former Uganda Cranes defender and skipper Ibrahim Sekagya's polished legacy pushes Otti to work his socks off. 

Currently the head coach for New York Red Bulls II of MLS Next Pro after a stellar professional career, by Ugandan standards, Sekagya was the commander and rock upon which the Cranes defence was built for almost 15 years. 

Bul defender Ronald Otti is joined by teammates in celebrating a goal against SC Villa. PHOTO/JOHN BATANUDDE

"I wish God can grant me a chance to meet my role model Sekagya and ask him how he excelled amidst adversity. 

" It would give me a chance to know how he remained composed, read the game well and put up consistent performances for Cranes which would help me hone my game for the better, " Otti stated. 

Sekagya playing exploits at KCC (then), Atlético de Rafaela, Ferro Carril Oeste, Arsenal de Sarandí, Red Bull Salzburg and New York Red Bulls are obviously too lofty for Otti but it doesn't stop him from dreaming. 

He admits to also following Murushid Juuko's career path at Cranes, Simba, Express and Vipers and tries to mould his trade in a similar take-no-prisoners approach. 

At the moment Otti is reportedly on Vipers' transfer radar with other local giants and African clubs reportedly after his signature after a solid league display as he partnered Walter Ochora at Bul. 

Soccer vs. books

Born to the late Charles Ociti and Jennifer Turyasingura on December 6,2000 in Namulonge-Wakiso, Otti still harbours dreams of achieving a university degree. 

"I attended Namulonge Primary, Namulonge SS and Ubuntu High School but unfortunately I couldn't join university after senior six because my mum didn't have the tuition fees. 

"For now, I'm concentrating on improving the rough edges of my football career but if an opportunity arose to go back to books, I would think about balancing the two," Otti emphasized. 

The former Nangabo Green Valley and Mbarara City man-marking defender believes Bul did it's part in the recently concluded fiercely contested for league title race, only that God chose Villa as eventual champions. 

"Our bosses are happy that we fought hard (Bul trailed victors Villa by a point in second) but unfortunately it wasn't our day. If we are not distracted by injuries again, we hope to give it another chase next season," Otti remarked. 

Ronald Otti at a glance

Parents: Charles Ociti (late) and Jennifer Turyasingura

Nationality: Ugandan

Born: December 6, 2000

Place of birth: Namulonge-Wakiso

Education: Namulonge Primary, Namulonge SS and Ubuntu High School

Clubs: Nangabo Green Valley, Mbarara City and Bul

Position: Defender

Role model: Ibrahim Sekagya

Hospital: Nsambya Hospital