Shock After Cranes Tactician Mohammad Moshir Abbas is Axed

Shock After Cranes Tactician Mohammad Moshir Abbas is Axed

Despite all the hope and trust, the new Football Federation administration seem to have learnt nothing from the Obua era...

By Ramathan Kasozi
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First published: March 13, 2006

'It may be old wine in a new bottle' is the talk on the lips of the Ugandan soccer fraternity, after the sudden axing of Cranes tactician Mohammad Moshir Abbas, referring to the current soccer governing body to the past regime of Denis Obua.

Early last week, Lawrence Mulindwa's FUFA made a seemingly decisive decision to sack Abbas, a man that almost all football stakeholders in Uganda thought had the key to break the long jinx of not qualifying for the African Cup of Nations since 1978.

Despite all the hope and trust, the new Football Federation administration seem to have learnt nothing from the Obua era, meaning the status quo of conceding goals even before kicking the ball continues.

You may remember that Mulindwa, after the World and African Cup draws put Uganda Cranes against Nigeria and little known Niger and Lesotho, started prophesying that come what may, the Cranes were to fly to Ghana 2008 African cup finals. The ever optimistic Mulindwa, should be aware that the sacking of the Egyptian has not only left his Federation and all other stakeholders divided but with more than luck needed, if his dream of Uganda qualifying for the African Nations Cup as well as the World Cup is to come true.

Already different key figures in Ugandan football have come out to express their dissatisfaction over Abbas' sacking.

The Minister of State for Sports Charles Bakkabulindi has demanded an explanation for while a crop of players, including star South Africa based professionals Timothy Batabaire and vice Captain David Obua, have described the decision as a minus towards Cranes' quest for qualifying to the African cup finals in Ghana.

This reaction came shortly after a sports journalist in Uganda under their Umbrella USPA, exchanged adversarial words with some of the FUFA bosses at Mengo on Wednesday during the Federation's weekly press conference over the same saga.

Abbas may not have been a darling of many Ugandans, but he is neither a foe nor the person to lame for the Uganda Crane's shortcomings on and off the pitch.

The vocal bold headed tactician arrived in the country in June of 2004 during the 2006 World and African cup campaign under the cultural exchange programme scheme with the Egyptian government. Under the contract, it was Egypt to meet all his wages apart from accommodation, transport and feeding.

Despite an awesome start on the Cranes bench, Abbas had transformed the team from mediocre side to an outfit that can encounter any one on the continent. This is evidenced in the recently concluded LG Cup in Egypt were the Cranes rubbed shoulders with power houses like Senegal, Egypt and Equador and managed to win a bronze medal after coming from a goal down to beat Equador 2-1.

The 42 year old former manager found the country ranked 113 in the World but because of a couple of magnificent performances in the LG Cup, CECAFA and in the late stages of 2006 World and African cup qualifiers, the cranes is now ranked 96. All this had brought back hope and trust among the Uganda soccer fraternity.

The Uganda Football Federation's technical chairman, Asuman Lubowa who has already declared him self the care taker is alleged to have masterminded the sacking with intention of recapturing the job.

Lubowa a former vice to Abbas, has been on logger heads with the Egyptian for long, dating from last season when they almost flexed over the famous chicken battle only to be saved by some senior players around. Abbas had accused Lubowa for always enjoying all the chicken thighs prepared for the team only to spare necks and wings for the players. When Abbas reported it to his bosses, Lubowa was axed and replaced by San Simbwa by the then FUFA Normalization Committee.

It was evident when Lubowa assumed the post of technical manager in this current government, that the Egyptian's days on the Cranes bench were numbered as Lubowa was bound to retaliate over the embarrassment.

Mulindwa should be aware that many coaches have failed not because the local coaches are not good to handle the team but because of the club sentiments, disrespect of coaches by both the fans and the federation among others. But there is surely little to be achieved by from the local coaches and Mulindwa should erase them from his mind.

Lubowa was in charge of the Cranes during the 2000 African cup of Nations qualifiers and completely left no mark. In one of the results, the Carthage Eagles of Tunusia white washed him 7-0 in Tunis before hammering the final nail in his team's coffin with 2-0 at Nakivubo. Is he the right man to steer the team to Ghana 2008 and perhaps to South Africa in 2010 for the World Cup? We need better options.

By Ramathan Kasozi
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First published: March 13, 2006
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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.