I AM proud to have played football in an era where we players were held accountable for our performances in a match. And at a club level like my former club SC Villa, the late club Supremo, ‘Chief’ Patrick Kawooya(RIP) wasted no time in ripping through anyone of us, when he felt we were letting our standards drop.
In September 1994 I was part of the Uganda Cranes side that got beaten 4-0 in Dar es salaam in the opening rounds of the AFCON 1996 Qualifiers.
And anyone who was old enough back then, can detail for others the roasting we received upon return back home. The Federation, the Press, the fans all really roasted us.There was simply no where to hide. And we’re talking about a period in Ugandan football which used to draw massive interest and crowds everywhere u turned. There was no pettiness of players being disrespected and those of us who were in Tanzania understood we had let down our nation massively. It led to the break up of that squad and the emergence of new talents such as Goalkeeper Abu Kigenyi, Joseph Mutyaba, Friday Ssenyonjo(RIP) etc. While seniors like Wassa Sadiq , Charles Temaligwe etc, called it quits, but in a positive way without holding any grudges against anyone, for they understood only too well the standards expected of a national team player. Today, things looks to be different!
When the FUFA President Eng. Moses Magogo says what many only know too well, that our CHAN team simply did not perform at the Cameroon tourney, then it’s shouts of, “oooh he’s disrespecting players.”
When the Nigerian FA President Amaju Pinnick lay into and read the ‘riot act’ to the Super Eagles in the dressing room on 13th November 2020, after they let a 4-0 lead melt away to draw 4-4 with Sierra Leone in an AFCON 2021 Qualifier, there was none of “the senior Super Eagles players have threatened to boycott the national team.” And, “none of the FA President is disrespecting his players.” Today Nigeria will be playing at next year’s AFCON Finals Tournament after the players raised their standards. While for Uganda Cranes that’s now full of pettiness, self entitlement and a false imagination by #some players that they’re actually doing Ugandans and the FA a favour when they turn up to play for the Uganda Cranes(with comments of “ate banakolaki, bajja kutwetaaga neera”), we will only be watching the Tournament from our tellies, come Jan/Feb next year.
Contrast that with Burkina Faso who while here to face Uganda in a decisive Qualifier game on 24th March 2021, were a picture of concentration, focus, unity and professionalism. Anyone who had a chance to see or interact with the Burkinabes at their Speke Resort Hotel in Munyonyo will understand only too well what I’m talking about. While for Uganda, some players were instead, the next day after the goalless draw with Burkina Faso, putting pressure on the coach to allow them go out of camp to visit their families.
In the Malawi game of such enormous proportions, where was the urgency, the focus, the concentration, the tenacity and the desire to get a result at all costs??
The Writer Paul Mukatabala is a former player @ SC Villa & Uganda Cranes International