Reshuffle in the Senior Cranes after CECAFA Triumph
Dhaira tiped to take over from Denis Onyango.

Reshuffle in the Senior Cranes after CECAFA Triumph

As FUFA finds its self in a tight angle after the sudden closure of GTV.

By Ramathan Kasozi
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First published: March 3, 2009

In January, Uganda won her 10th record CECAFA accolade after a hard fought 1-nil victory over neighbors Kenya in a final played at Namboole ultra modern stadium, thanx to Brian Omony's 1st half strike.

The regional trophy was seen as a perfect consolation for the country that had been painfully eliminated from the on going qualifiers for the 2010 South Africa world Cup and Angola African Cup of Nations.

Besides being a consolation, the tournament served as a precise platform for the local football governing body FUFA's decision of building a new team. After an early exit from the World Cup and African Cup Qualifiers 2010, FUFA along side the new national Scottish tactician Bobby Williamson resolved to build a new team for the future competitions.

Therefore, they decided to field a new Cranes team mainly comprising of youngsters playing their trade at home. Save for team captain Andy Mwesigwa (Iceland). Egyptian based Massa Godfrey and Midfielder Daniel Wagaluka from Tanzanian giants Azam United, the rest were home based.

Despite a huge pressure mounting from the local partisan fans, the boys rose to the occasion. The did not only win Uganda her tenth title but exhibited incredible soccer flair beyond their age through out the whole tournament. Long time rivals Rwanda was among the victims that fell prey being white washed 4-nil before demolishing Tanzania, Somalia and Burundi 2-1, 4-0 and 5-0 respectively.

The triumph caused a lot of excitement in the Ugandan vocal soccer fraternity calling for an immediate vigorous reshuffle in the senior team. They argue that its time for the old faces to give way for the new blood. Among the notable youngsters that stole the show included SC Villa wiz kid Stephen Bengo, Tonny Mawejje and the new marksman on block Brian Omony who won the golden boot with six goals.

The possible reshuffle

Goal keeping

Denis Onyango (Super sport United, South Africa) vs Abel Dhaira (URA- Uganda)

Onyango had turned the Cranes posts permanently his despite his customary howlers that has cost the team's qualification to the last two African Cup finals. His howlers in 4-1 loss against Benin and 3-1 loss to minors Niger in Niamey are some cases in point. But with the emergency of towering Dhaira, pundits have it that unless otherwise, the former St. George FC goalie is destined to hand over the gloves to the 20 year old comical custodian. The 2008 USPA player of the year was in a tip top form through out the whole CECAFA tournament conceding only a goal in the Cranes' 2-1 victory over Tanzania off a spot- kick.

Right full back

Simon Masaba (SC Villa- Uganda) vs Derrick Walulya (Bunamwaya FC �" Uganda)

By the virtue of being one of the few local based players that command a starting place in the senior team, depicts how dependable he is. He was assigned to deputize the team captain in the tournament and as usual never did he disappoint his tactician as he turned to be the pivot of the rearguard with his customary overlaps. His under study is still too raw to give him competition.

Left full back

Nestory Kizito (Serbia) vs Habib Kavuma (Bunamwaya-Uganda)

It's obvious that Kizito's boots are over sized and can't fit any one in the country. Kavuma who took over the later's responsibility was just a shadow of him self and FUFA Critics argue that the towering player was in a starting line up just by the virtue of being from FUFA boss Lawrence Mulindwa's club. Mulindwa is the patron and Chief financier of Bunamwaya.

However, Kizito should not take it for granted especially after the emergency of Godfrey Walusimbi who is seen as his real replica. Walusimbi didn't feature in the tournament as he sustained a knee injury prior to the kick off of the tournament.

The 18 year old SC Villa player considered to be the best local based left full back, is a real replica of his senior ranging from size, game reading to lion heartedness.

Central defense

Batabaire Timothy (S. Africa) vs Mwesigwa Andy (Iceland)

Batabaire, the senior team Vice captain faces a stiff challenge from the man who captained the new look team to the CECAFA glory. Mwesigwa with his no-nonsense game approach is one of the few players with undoubtable 'national heart'. He was inspirational through out the tournament. His header against Burundi in Semi- finals was just icing a cake.

Contrary to what can be seen in Mwesigwa, his South African based compatriot is experiencing one of the worst era in his career. Little surprise he has spent most of the time this season warming the bench of his club Bloemfontein Celtics.

Ssekajja Ibrahim (Red Bulls-Austria) vs Edward Ssali (Bunamwaya-Uganda)

The fact remains that unless the Senior Cranes Skipper decides to hang up his boots, he will always have a plot in the starting line up. He is considered to be one of the most gifted players this country has ever produced.

The likes of Ssali who was drafted in the team after Joseph Owino pulled a muscle in the opener against Rwanda, should only be consoled by the Ssekajja's age, with the advanced age Sekajja not far from waving bye- bye to soccer.

Defensive midfield

Bagoole Johnson (ATRACO-Rwanda) vs Tonny Mawejje (URA-Uganda)

Mawejje proved his critics wrong including me as he convinced every one that the number should be his in the senior team. With his timely tackles, neat killer passes and on target long range shots, Bagoole should hesitate to handle over the jersey to the Uganda Revenue Authority workhorse only at his own peril.

Attacking mid fielder

Mike Sserumaga (Sweden) vs Patrick Ochan (URA)

Sserumaga , sustatained a knee injury prior to the tournament that ruled him out but his understudy was a bit shaky confirming that his vacancy in the team is still wide open especially after his senior Assan Pitche Bajope turned disrespectful to the Cranes calls. The Congolese naturalized Ugandan, went AWOL shortly before the Cranes vs Niger (2nd leg 2010 World and African Cup qualifiers) in Niamey

Right of the midfield

Daniel Wagaluka (Tanzania) vs Vicent Kayizzi (KCC FC- Uganda)

In the last three seasons, Wagaluka had turned to be one of the crowd darlings owing to his pace, dribbling skills and work rate but ever since he left the local league for greener pastures in Tanzania, he seem to have lost his bite.

The pint sized midfielder wasn't at his best in the CECAFA tournament and it was evident that he had to surrender his starting slot to Kayizzi.

All said, age is some how still on his side and one tournament cant overshadow his talent. He is likely to regain his starting place in senior national team since his number one competitor Kayizzi, is known for being inconsistent.

The other player worth submitting in his claim for this slot is Rwandan based Joseph Kabagambe.

Left of the midfield

David Obua (Hearts United-Scotland) vs Bengo Stephen (SC Villa)

King David, Super man, live wire, sniper… These are some of the tags that have been used to describe Uganda's most popular player David Obua for almost a decade. There is no question about his talent and ever since the collapse of Phillip Ssozi, Obua has been untouchable on the left flank.

But with the emergency of the extra ordinary talent of Stephen Bengo, the Hearts United skilful midfielder should watch out especially with his advancing age count. Bengo is a right footed player, but like his AC Milan idol Ronaldhno Gaucho, he is more deadly while attacking from the left hand side of the pitch.

Despite coming off the bench in some of the Cranes games in just concluded CECAFA tournament, the wonder kid graduate from the SC Villa nursery emerged the second top scorer for the team with four goals.

His strikes against Rwanda, Somalia and Burundi were enough dose to the nation of what the stout player is made of. Bengo remains one of the best dead ball specialists in country at this moment. His strike off a free kick almost at the corner flag against Tanzania is a clear testimony. Obua might be still enjoying his plot in the team, but I hear warning bells sounding for him.

Striking line

Eugene Ssepuya (Serbia) vs Brian Omony (KCC)

Save for the physical build up and experience, Ssepuya has no reason as to why he shouldn't honorably accept and formally handle over his starting slot in the team to the country's player of the year .The KCC FC youngster surprised the soccer fraternity when he scooped the GTV Ugandan super league golden boot on his debut in the top flight football in addition to guiding the KCC its first league trophy after a decade.

Anyone, who had doubt with him, was proved wrong in the just concluded CECAFA tournament when he shouldered the nation to its 10th title in addition to wining the Golden boot with 6 goals.

Massa Godfrey (Egypt) vs Okhuti Ceaser (Bunamwaya)

On my first sight on Okhuti in the 2008 CECAFA Championship in Tanzania, I argued with my fellow sports reporter Ben Nyombi of Suubi FM, that no any serious coach can partner the two.

Thankfully, we were once again seated together with the same when Williamson made a blunder and fielded the two in the Cranes opening games against Rwanda and Zanzibar and they all flopped. He was forced to revise his line up in the next games and sacrificed one of the two to accommodate Omony which paid off.

The two are real replicas ranging from pace, extravagancy, height to workrate. However with experience and record, Massa posses an upper hand against Okhuti.

The two should however, be reminded of the presence of Mr. Sserunkuma who is hitting headlines down in the South African Premier League and of course first rising Emma Okwi who missed the tournament due to injury.

GTV collapse leaves gaps

Mean while, it is time of unrest ensues in Ugandan football following the sudden closure of pay Television, GTV. The Federation of Uganda Football Association (FUFA) has gone back to the drawing board searching for a possible replacement sponsor. GTV just last year, signed a five year contract to sponsor the Local National Super League with a tune of 8.4 billion shillings.

In some of the key highlights of the contract, GTV was to inject 32 million shillings to every Super league club annually to help in the preparations, staking 26 million shillings for the winner, player of the year and top scorer sharing 16 millions in addition to broadcasting some of big matches live.

The live broadcasting of the game had started paying fruits especially in marketing of players as evidenced by increasing numbers of professional players.

GTV's exit will has left not only FUFA but all clubs reeling, save for Sc Villa. Sports Club Villa is the only club in the country with a corporate sponsor, Uganda Telecommunications Limited.

Some of the key milestones in the other sports disciplines

Basket Ball

Superstar Norman Blick made a transfer record when he put a pen to paper to play for the reigning national champions Sadolin powers for two years in contract worth 20 million shillings. According to Sadolins' team manager Peter Mubanda, they plan to sign more stars players in a bid to strengthen the squad ahead of the regional and continental engagements.

In a related development, reigning female MVP Flavio Aketcho has finalized his transfer from UCU Canons Basket ball Club to KCC Leopolds at undisclosed sign on fee.

Uganda Olympic Committee (UOC)

Uganda amateur Boxing Federation president Rogers Ddungu, managed to unseat long serving UOC president Maj. Gen. Francis Nyangweso from Office in the hot elections conducted at the National Council of Sports Headquarters at Lugogo. Nyangweso had turned the presidency of the Committee into his permanent work serving for 32 years.


Uganda secures a slot in the 2010 world Cup finals after finishing runners up in the just concluded International Cricket Council (ICC) division 111 world cricket league hosted by Argentina. In the same tournament, Kenneth Kamyuka emerged the best over all player, which also won him the Uganda Sports Press Association Sportsman of the Month (January) award.

By Ramathan Kasozi
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First published: March 3, 2009
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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.