FUFA Too Soft on Ssekajja
Ibrahim Ssekajja.

FUFA Too Soft on Ssekajja

High time Mulindwa reacts accordingly.

By Ramathan Kasozi
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First published: January 2, 2007

Controversy is surrounding the Ugandan soccer fraternity over what should be done to the Cranes inspirational skipper Ibrahim Ssekajja for his deliberate failure to honor a national call against Niger in Niamey in the 2008 African Cup of Nations qualifiers back in November.

The matter hasn't only put the credibility of the national football governing body FUFA on a weighing scale but even left the entire Ugandan football stakeholders divided.

For starters, in a typical Ssekajja style, the Argentine based defender declined to connect to Kampala and travel with the rest of his team mates, promising to connect directly from Buenos Aires to Niamey after his travel costs, amidst all the Federation's financial crisis, were fully met.

On a day when his team mates were departing for Niamey, the 28 year old intelligent player called FUFA and confirmed to the nation that he was already in Niger and was just waiting to join the rest of the squad. A day after, the same player dialed FUFA Headquarters in Mengo fooling that he was on the way till the match date reached without Ssekajja being seen anywhere in Niamey. Many Ugandans were disappointed that the national team captain would behave as such.

This situation left the Cranes Hungarian coach Laszlo Csaba sweating as he had to change his game format since he had drawn his game plan basing mainly on his team captain. After a hard fought barren draw, the press had it that the former KCC FC player had featured in the Argentine league with his club Arsenal Desalandi FC on the same day.

Besides the fans, the Minister of State for Education and Sports Hon Charles Bakkabulindi and the General Secretary for the National Council of Sports Jasper Aligawesa, despite FUFA remaining adamant, demanded for disciplinary action against Ssekajja.

The veteran libero has turned it a habit, as this was not the first time to do so. Under similar circumstances in the Egypt 2006 African qualifiers, the same man missed the Cape Verde vs Uganda tie which the Cranes lost 1-nil and the Ghana game at Namboole stadium that ended 1-1.

At many occasions, if he is to make it, Ssekajja makes sure that he arrives on the eleventh hour rendering a lot of pressure to the whole nation, bringing in this feeling that the Cranes team is Ssekajja.

One of the country's veteran sports writers James Bakama of The New Vision, in one of his Monday columns 'I Say So' , came out within an article on this saga that "Uganda needs Ssekajja more than Ssekajja needs Uganda". Not because his phrase is not ideal, but FUFA should be aware that in the modern game of football or any other, discipline is paramount if any fruits are to be realized.

If high caliber players like Roy Keane, Shaban Nonda, and Ahmed Mido to mention but a few, have ever faced the wrath of their counties, then why not Ssekajja?

Why isn't the football governing body acting on Ssekajja? FUFA should be reminded that Ssekajja has featured for the Cranes in almost a decade but Uganda has never come close to qualifying for the African Cup finals. Or is there a guarantee that if he was there Uganda would have bagged maximum points from Niamey?

They should also be awaked that even without Ssekajja, the Niamey trip remains one of the memorable away results the Cranes have posted in a couple of years.

Its amazing that under a similar fashion when Abubaker Tabula and Mike Sserumaga preferred to going for professional trials in Sweden than traveling to Tripoli for the Cranes build-up against Libya, FUFA reacted fast and suspended the duo for six months without kicking even a fiber ball despite the two players' apologies.

If we are to go with this trend, aren't we concurring with the Animal Farm's law that all animals are equal but some are more equal than others? If the federation is copying the Animal Farms code, isn't it enticing the other more equal animals in the names of David Obua, Nestroy Kizito, Geoffrey Massa and Timothy Batabaire to impose their might too?

The medicine to this is clear. Let Ssekajja join Tabula and Sserumaga in the coldness, surrender the nation's captain arm band and hand it over to the seemingly nationalistic individuals like Batabaire, Obua, Andy Mwesigwa or goalie Denis Onyango.

It's high time the FUFA president Mr Mulindwa and company reacts accordingly if their angelic corporate image is to be preserved.

Basing on the professional way his federation has been handling the game in its only one year tenureship, ever since Mulindwa took over the drowned FUFA ship from Mr Obua Denis, every soccer lover in the country was convinced that it was the time for the East African State to regain its soccer glory. But the Ssekajja saga only leaves a question mark weather the hey days of FUFA are diminishing or over.

By Ramathan Kasozi
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First published: January 2, 2007
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Ramathan Kasozi is a member of Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd. . A graduate Journalist, Kasozi has more than 5 years experience reporting on sports in Uganda for different print and broadcast media houses.