Ssemakula: Home support key to revive WC campaign

Outgoing SC Villa captain Kenneth Ssemakula understands the value of fans. PHOTOS/EDDIE CHICCO 

What you need to know:

Cranes defender Kenneth Ssemakula, who has just guided SC Villa to the 17th league title before throwing in the towel at Villa Park, is equally eager to play before a mammoth audience if granted a chance by Put. 

Come June 7, and the five-year wait will be halted as Uganda Cranes takes on Botswana in the World Cup qualifiers. 

Three days later, Paul Put's charges will fancy their chances against Algeria at the same fortress in a bid to earn the maiden ticket to the 2026 World Cup showpiece in North America. 

Cranes defender Kenneth Ssemakula, who has just guided SC Villa to the 17th league title before throwing in the towel at Villa Park, is equally eager to play before a mammoth audience if granted a chance by Put. 

"The fans will give us the much needed push at Namboole and I pray they attend in numbers. 

"I will give it my best if given a chance so that we don't let them down at home, " Ssemakula said. 

Uganda Cranes head coach Paul Put (L) speaks to defender Kenneth Ssemakula.

Like at Villa, he is now an integral part of the national team who ably plays at the heart of defence, right back and defensive midfield. 

Fufa chief executive officer Edgar Watson, who until Ssemakula had been the last SC Villa skipper to lift aloft the league title in 2004, says they plan to mobilize the fans in big numbers to create a 12th player against Botswana and Algeria. 

"With Cranes majority sponsors MTN, we have started a massive fans drive to create awareness. 

"Nothing motivates a national team player more than playing before those adoring fans at Namboole, " Watson revealed. 

He added: "playing at Namboole always lifts players and it is not the same as the environment where they have been playing in the last five years." 

Last week, MTN conducted a well attended city drive  with groups of renowned football cheerleaders from MTN Omondi Stadium, Lugogo to Namboole Stadium and back to their head offices in the Industrial Area. 

" We are reigniting the passion and lighting the fire in the fans. This time, fans stand a chance to win while supporting the national team. 

"There is a battle for best cheer leaders as we set to rally the Cranes, " John Paul Okwir, the manager of sponsorship and events at MTN, stated. 

KCCA and Cranes cheer leader Kassim Kyazze is excited to be in contention for the best fans deal. 

Fifa World Cup 2026

Group G

Matchdays 3 & 4

June 7, 2024

Uganda vs Botswana, 7pm, Namboole

June 10, 2024

Uganda vs Algeria, 7pm, Namboole

"I'm planning to assemble a big team of 40 cheer leaders to storm Namboole and cheer for the Cranes. 

"I have painted Cranes colours on my body for the national team for the last 15 years and I welcome the fans' challenge put up by MTN, " Kyazze remarked.