Tenywa, Bukohore and Bigala: Calm defenders who locked in Uganda, US

Sunday May 09 2021
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Mr Versatile. Tenywa was indeed Mr Versatile. He boasted of frightening pace from one so big. Strong as an ox, two footed, and tackled as well as he shot. He played all numbers on the park apart from standing between the goal posts. PHOTO/EDDIE CHICCO

By Robert Mugagga


Tenywa’s potential was first noticed at Kibuli SSS where he excelled and won a couple of post primary schools championships. While there, he was revered for scoring five goals in a single game against archrivals Lubiri SSS.
From his youthful days, football seemed to be destiny as Tenywa’s brothers, Mubarak Tenywa and Mohammed Segonga, played for Nsambya.Upon retirement, the latter became a referee, rising to the level of attaining a Fifa badge.
At club level, Tenywa first featured for Horizons in the lower division. In 1994, he realized his lifelong dream of playing for a big club when moved to KCCA.

There, Tenywa had a good partnership with Derrick Muyanja and Ibrahim Ssekagya in defence.
However, the club didn’t achieve much, finishing third in the league in 1994 behind eventual winners SC Villa and Express.
Tenywa didn’t spend long at KCCA and jumped ship to rivals Express in 1995 under the chairmanship of Vincent Bbale Mugera. There were good vibes at Wankulukuku as the club had just signed Serbian coach Dragan Popadic.

Apart from Tenywa, Express sought the signatures of two Congolese players, goalkeeper Issa Bin Munguand and midfielder Ayew Mbo. To those, Lulenti Kyeyune from Posta and Friday Ssenyonjo from Military Police were also added.
Youngsters Robert Ojok, Yusuf Musisi and Sulaiman Lusande also joined. That formed the backbone of the team that reclaimed the league in 1996. Tenywa played a pivotal part as did George Ssemwogerere, Kefa Kisala, Geoffrey Bukohore, Richard Kirumira, Joseph Mutyaba, James Kirinnya and Fred Tamale.
The following season, Tenywa made a great contribution for Express’ Uganda Cup victory when he scored the opening goal in their 4-1 win over Umeme in the finals.

At the end of the 1997 season, Tenywa took advantage of a scholarship program that existed between USA and Uganda that recognized and reward talented footballing students.
This was how he moved to America where he joined the Martin Methodist College in Tennessee.
Between 1999 and 2000, Tenywa made 51 appearances for Pittsburgh Riverhounds in the A-Soccer league.
Towards the end of 2000, Tenywa played in two regular season games for Chicago Fire before becoming a playoff regular player.

From 2001, he made 24 appearances for Columbus Crew, 47 for Dallas Burn (2002-2003), 14 for Metrostars (2004), 78 for Rochester Rhinos (2005-2008)  and finally returned to Pittsburgh Riverhounds where he featured in 14 matches.
In 2000, when Tenywa had just joined Chicago Fire, the-then coach Bob Bradley was impressed and told him that he was playing at a higher level than most players from Africa he had handled before.


The coach advised him to go pro when the opportunity strikes. He and and Peter Byaruhanga of Kansas City were the only Ugandans featuring in Major League Soccer (MLS).
At Chicago Fire, Tenywa rubbed shoulders with Bulgarian legend Hristo Stoichkov and Piotr Nowak of Poland. “He had exceptional qualities. He was a great lad and very hardworking who took football seriously and a disciplined player who painted a very good image of Uganda,” Bradley said of Tenywa.

In a 2000 interview with America Soccer magazine, Tenywa revealed the secret behind his success. “I play a simple game and don’t try to complicate it by doing hard things. From defence to midfield, I adjust and move on,” Tenywa explained.

For Uganda Cranes, Tenywa registered 21 caps and featured in most Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup qualifiers played between 2004 and 2008 under four coaches – Paul Hasule, Mohammed Abbas, Pedro Pasculli and Mike Mutebi.
His best games came in victories over DR Congo, Angola, Niger, Rwanda and draws with Ghana and South Africa.
Tenywa was also in the team that played Rwanda in that 2003 “Juju” match at Namboole. All this time, he was played both as a central defender, right back and centre forward as the team’s needs demanded.

In June 2004, Mutebi made it clear that he wouldn’t risk the job of professional players by fielding them in positions outside their routine. “Tenywa has not played as a centre forward for the past five years. You want him to lose his job? Do we know what might happen to him after playing poorly in an international match because he has been wrongly fielded?” questioned Mutebi.

l Excelled for Kibuli SSS in National Post Primary Schools Championships.
l Played for Horizons, KCCA and Express in Uganda.
l Played for Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, Dallas Burn, Metro Stars and Rochester Rhinos in US.
l Helped KCCA finish third in the 1994 league behind Villa and Express.

l Won the league with Express in 1996.
l  Scored and won the 1997 Uganda Cup with Express.
l At Chicago Fire, he played alongside Hristo Stoichkov of Bulgaria and Piotr Nowak of Poland.
l Won 25 caps with Cranes.
l Featured for Cranes in Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup qualifiers between 2004 and 2008.
l Played for Cranes under four coaches, Mike Mutebi, Paul Hasule Mohammed Abbas and Pedro Pasculli.

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Clinical Man. Bukokore’s lanky build and slow gait belied a toughness and roughness that would surprise many. PHOTO/ JB SSENKUBUGE


Bukohore’s immense talent first came to light when attending Kibuli SSS. The same school has nurtured many across several generations including Ali Kitonsa, Robert Aloro, Sam Ssimbwa, Phillip Obwin, Joachim Matovu, Livingstone Mbabazi, Eugene Sepuuya, Peter Nsaba, Mike Mutebi, Allan Okello, Julius Kisekka, Mujib Kasule, David Odowa and Patrick Ntege.
The school had a sports-loving headteacher in Abbas Kawaase Mukasa who offered bursaries to talented footballers.
In the case of Bukohore, there was no way a centre back with a passing ability was going to escape the sharp eye of Express. 

The Red Eagles signed him in 1995 but waited for a while before fielding him for two main reasons. First of all, on joining, Bukohore was diagnosed to have a cracked shin bone. Secondly, they had experience in Obwin. Bukohore joined Express FC at the time.


l Played for Kibuli SSS in the National Post Primary Schools Championships.
l Played for State House, Express and SC Villa in the Ugandan league.

l Was part of the Express team that won the league in 1996.
l Won the Uganda Cup with Express in 1997.
l Won the league and Uganda Cup with SC Villa in 1998.
l With SC Villa, he finished runner-up in the 1999 Cecafa Kagame Clubs Cup.
l Played for the U-17 national team.
l Was part of the U-23 Kobs team that qualified for the 1999 All Africa Games.   

school-going footballers were issued with student licenses to avoid a tug-of-war with between schools.
This came after a precedent that saw Sam Mukasa, a student of St. Henry’s College Kitovu, was caught between KCCA and SC Villa.

Earlier on in 1990, Bukohore was spotted and included in the U-17 youth team where he played alongside others like Asaph Mwebaze, Benjamin Musoke and Andrew Arinaitwe. He was at one time been handled by coach Paul Hasule at State House who paired him with Ibrahim Ssekagya in the central defence. Bukohore’s career at Express saw the team reclaim the 1996 league title in a team that also had Sulaiman Tenywa, George Ssemwogerere, Fred Tamale, Kefa Kisala, Richard Kirumira, Patrick Ntege, Ayew Mbo and James Magala,
When Hasule became coach at SC Villa, Bukohore tagged along.  At Villa Park, Bukohore fitted in instantaneously in a star-studded team that also had Aggrey Bigala, John Mandwara, Deo Sserwadda, Hakim Magumba, Hassan Mubiru, James Odoch, Charles Kayemba, Joseph Mutyaba, Edgar Watson and Ramadhan Elengesa.

That Villa side narrowly missed winning the 1999 Cecafa Kagame Cup hosted by Uganda losing to Yanga of Tanzania in the final on spot kicks.Bukohore was also undertaking his undergraduate studies at Makerere University from where he earned a scholarship to study at Alabama University.
For Uganda, Bukohore was an outstanding member of that 1999 Uganda Kobs that qualified for the All Africa Games in South Africa. Coach Leo Adraa depended on him to organised the defence throughput qualification but missed the final tournament as he moved to USA.


Bigala was such a talent that SC Villa couldn’t miss signing him during his early days at Makerere University despite not having a High School football CV to sell.
Throughout his career in Uganda, Bigala proved to be a hard tackler and remarkable centre back. Some fans referred to him as Ugandan football’s “minister of defence”.
Unlike SC Villa teammate, Geoffrey Bukohore, Bigala was an influential member of the U-23 Uganda Kobs team who stayed behind and took part in the All Africa Games in South Africa and only leaving for studies afterwards. 

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Cup Double. Bigala’s no holds barred character on the pitch helped SC Villa win the double; league and Uganda Cup in 1998. Earlier in 1997, he had scooped the Uganda with Express FC - something made Villa fight for his signature. in the next season.

At their peak in the Kobs team, Bigala and others like Arthur Byansiima were unshakable that often relegated Ibrahim Ssekagya (KCCA) and Mike Juuko (Scoul) to the bench.

Bigala was part of the team’s defence that apart from Sekagya and Juuko also had skipper Andy Lule and Abubaker Tabula.
He took part in all Kobs’ qualification encounters against Ethiopia in the first round, Kenya in round two and Eritrea in the third round to make it to South Africa. 
During a buildup match in Lusaka, Zambia, the Kobs coach Leo Adraa made an urgent call to Kampala crying out to the country’s soccer governing body Fufa to get his players with the Uganda Cranes down to Lusaka to join the rest of the team.

“We really need our first 11. The rest we can do without but we badly need our defence and make sure Bigala, Byansiima, Bukohore plus Wilber Musika and Sam Kawalya arrive here by Saturday afternoon,” Adraa said.
When the All Africa Games tournament got underway in June 1999, Bigala featured prominently as the side reached the semifinals.

They beat Mali 2-0 and drew with South Africa in the group stages. In the semis, Uganda bowed out to an extra time goal at the expense of Cameroon.
In the SC Villa team, Bigala was signed by coach Paul Hasule along with David Obua and Hakim Magumba.
Bigala clinched the 1999 league title and Hedex Cup but narrowly missed being crowned Cecafa clubs king after falling to Tanzania’s Yanga in the final.

He has also won the league and cup double in 1998, beating Simba 2-0 in the final of the latter competition. Bigala left Uganda in 2000 and joined Alabama A&M, a public historically black land-grant university founded in 1875. There, he joined fellow Ugandan footballers in Mujib Kasule and Allan Kakooza.
The three Ugandans were on September 15, 2000 all fielded in the University team that took on Alabama Huntsville to the delight of some Ugandans based in this part of the US that attended the match who saw them as being good ambassadors to the Pearl of Africa.

Back home, it was indeed unfortunate that Bigala, who is rated among the best centre backs, was not spared by the exodus of Ugandan youthful players to America between 1999 and 2000.  That affected an entire generation. Had these lads stayed behind and reinforced the national team, Uganda Cranes may have broken their Africa Cup of Nations duck earlier. Who knows?
Among his peers when he moved were Peter Byaruhanga (Kansas City), Eugene Sepuuya (Colorado Rapids), Robert Ssejemba (DC United), Joel Kitamirike (Columbus Crew) and Sulaiman Tenywa Bonsue (Chicago Fire).Bigala now a PhD holder and is currently a banker in America residing in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

l Was so good that SC Villa recruited him straight from Makerere University.
l Was an aggressive centre back that used to terrorize strikers.
l Passing range and versatility made him a dependable player in the rear-guard.
l Won the 1999 league with SC Villa.

l Won 1999 Hedex Cup with SC Villa.
l With SC Villa, he finished as runners up in the 1999 Cecafa Club Championship.
l Prominently featured for Kobs team in qualifying for the 1999 All Africa Games.
l  Featured in all matches at 1999 All Africa Games en-route to the semifinals.
l In US, he played for Alabama A&M Uni.
l PhD holder and currently works as a banker in North Carolina.