There is no doubt that at a point in time, the trio had to hang up their boots but when it happened, the nation was shocked. Not that it wasn’t expected but the timing of their retirement hurt Ugandans. Its a time when millions of soccer fans are still recovering from the shocking failure to qualify for AFCON 2012 after that goal less draw with Kenya on the 8.10.12 and the Cranes preparing to kick start their 2013 AFCON campaign versus Congo Brazaville on the 29th.02.2012.
Ibrahim Ssekagya will always hold a place in the
hearts of many Ugandans for the dedicated performances and leadership he brought at the Cranes rear guard in his time. Despite making his debut way back in 1996, the soft spoken, calm Ibra only cemented his place in the side at the turn of the decade. Under Harrison Okagbue, the slow but sure captain played at right back against Senegal with Khalilou Fadiga giving him a torrid time.
Since then, he became a permanent figure and was handed the captain’s armband by Laszlo Csaba. Many will remember him for that goal against DR. Congo and a second half penalty that won the Nigeria game 2-1. He was also among the U-23 side that finished forth at the 1999 All Africa Games in South Africa. Him and David Obua complete the last of that squad that still stand. With him retiring, the likes of Denis Guma (Victoria University), Kalungi Henry (Proline), Isinde Isaac (St. George) come into the lime light but can they fill the big man’s boots?
NESTROY KIZITO‘s retirement robs Uganda of its most consistent player. Ever since he made his debut in 2004, no player has beaten him to consistency. You may scratch your head from dawn to dusk with out remembering any game where he made a mistake. His marauding full back displays will always be missed. People will always remember him for that marvellous confidence performance against South Africa’s Sibusizo Zuma in 2005. Godfrey Walusimbi looks a safe bet to fill the boots but the experience of a man who dislodged Tabula Abubaker from left back position of the national team will be greatly missed.
DAVID OBUA‘s predatory instincts, a knack for scoring important goals and the big man for big occassion will take long to be exhibited by a Ugandan player. Forget his temperament that culminated into a shirt throwing incident after he was substituted in the 2-0 win over Guinea Bissau, David has been Uganda’s best player for the last ten years. Who will ever forget his hat trick against Niger? What about his extra time strike in the 3-1 loss in Mauritius that propelled Uganda to the group stages of 2004 qualification campaign?
His winner away to Guinea Bissau in the recently concluded campaign? I don’t remember a game at Namboole stadium in the qualifiers he has played with out scoring or creating a goal. Even when half fit, he was the most important player in the team. Up to now, many sections of Ugandan footbal fans feel that had Obua played in the last 2012 AFCON qualifying match against Kenya, the Cranes would have been part of the 16 nations that took part in the editions in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. Moses Oloya (Vietnam), Sula Matovu (St. George), Mike Mutyaba (El merrick) and a rejuvenated Bengo Steven come into the equation now to fill the boots of the big man. It hurts me that the trio have left with out playing at African Nations Cup finals.