- Massa played for the national team for a dozen years
- He captained the national team to the 2017 AFCON finals – first time since 1978
- Holds the record for most goals in AFCON/World Cup qualifiers on the Uganda Cranes team
A couple of weeks ago, Geoffrey Massa announced his retirement from international football after a 12-year career with Uganda Cranes.
The ex-Police FC, El Masry and Baroka striker among others spoke to Kawowo Sports’ Ismael Kiyonga about his career.
From toughest opponents, best player played with, one he thinks would have made him even a better player if they played together and what it meant to skipper the national team in Gabon.
The secret behind his 12 year international career
I think it’s all about hard work, discipline and self-belief. In addition, patience and also keeping self in good physical conditions and of course consistency.
It has not been easy given the trend of Ugandan footballers who come on the scene but disappear immediately but I knew what I wanted and always worked hard to achieve it.
Four coaches in Mohamed Abbas, Csaba László, Bobby Williamson and Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojević. Who made the greatest impact?
They are all good coaches and have played a big part in my career and I can’t cite much difference. But maybe I would go for Mohamed Abbas who gave me my debut, believed in me before anyone and also opened my doors for professional football with a deal to Egypt.
Not that he is the best of the lot but he was pivotal. In fact we are still in touch even now and often pay him visits in Cairo. He is one coach I will never forget in my life.
Best game on the national team
It’s a tough pick because I think I have enjoyed most of the home games. But the 2-1 win at home to Nigeria supersedes the rest to me. Against a star studded side that comprised of players from the English Premier League and other top European divisions but we matched them so well and fortunately, helped the team win by winning the two penalties on the day.
I have faced so many good defenders but I will go with the Nigerian backline that had Danny Shitu, Joseph Yobo and Taye Taiwo.
Tough to pick one but those guys were in a pain for me although I ended up on the winning side and twice managed to beat them for the penalties we won
Reaction to the boos from fans whenever you missed a chance
It was motivation to me. I took it normal because it’s not just here, but everywhere in the world. If a centre forward isn’t scoring, they will boo you since they expect goals from you.
I don’t think they booed me because they didn’t want me. But they had expectations in me which maybe I couldn’t deliver in particular games but I hold no grudge.
In fact they did motivate me to work hard and are partly the reasons for my longevity.
Striker I looked up to
None but Hassan Mubiru. Arguably the most talented centre forward I have watched in this country. Fortunately, I played alongside him though for a short while. I learnt a lot from him on training and enjoyed a couple of games with him. His understanding of the game was top notch.
Partnership with Martin Muwanga and why it never worked on the national team
When we won the league in 2005 with Police FC, we had a great understanding of each other’s game. We played together against Ecuador in Cairo in the LG Cup and both scored in a 2-1 win.
Unfortunately, I don’t know what happened to him because when I went to Egypt, he was also offered trials at El Gouna but I don’t know what happened there. He returned home but was never the same as his form declined.
If he had kept feet on the pedal, no doubt we would complement each other well.
Best player played with
David Obua. Skillful, big character and very confident player is what defines him. He was fantastic especially in the away game and with him on the pitch, the whole team was always confident.
I think the choices are available. Diego [Hamis Kiiza], Okwi [Emmanuel], Geoff [geoffrey Sserunkuma] and Brian [Umony] are all good strikers and have the ability to lead the line.
Their only problem lies in consistency which is very important in international football and if any of them are, they can do the job.
Captaining the national team at AFCON
The greatest career moment in national team colours. It was a dream come true that I led the team to the Afcon finals, then skippering them in Gabon will always be the biggest highlight in my career.
Best Cranes XI in those 12 years
Denis Onyango (GK), Simeon Masaba, Nestroy Kizito, Timothy Batabaire, Ibrahim Sekagya, Tonny Mawejje, Vincent Kayizzi, Assan Bajope, Geoffrey Massa, Hassan Mubiru and David Obua.
What he makes of the Afcon/ World Cup qualifiers goals
It’s a great record to hold given the caliber of the previous strikers on the national team. But I always had it in mind especially at Namboole that I had to score.
Why Uganda took long to qualify for AFCON
The problem was our away form. But during the previous campaign, we sat as players to change the mindset and mentality that we had to change that.
That’s why we won away to Comoros and Botswana. In fact, we told each other that we treat away games as if we are on a neutral venue and it worked.
Player you would have loved to play with
Hakim Magumba – if I had played with him, we would have qualified earlier I guess. I think we didn’t have that kind of creative midfielder during my days. Fast, tricky and good passer in regards to the final ball to the forwards.
The Luwagga snub against Mali
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I watched them on replay. I didn’t see him since all my concentration was getting on to the pitch. I think he had issues with the coach (Micho) and never wanted to shake his hands when he came off but not me.
We are great friends like any other player but I think Micho and the FA took all that out of hand in reaction.
Which players would he love to play with in his ‘Testimonial?’
The best eleven I chose and also would add Andrew Mwesigwa, Geoffrey Sserunkuma, Richard Malinga, Abubaker Tabula and Mike Sserumaga.
The Kind of Testimonial he would love
I would love to feature in either of the two home FIFA 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers – versus Ghana or Egypt since I was part of the team that led the team to the group stages.
If not that, a side I chose to play against selected opponents from all over the world that I have played with.