Sebastien Desabre Credit: © Kawowo Sports | JOHN BATANUDDE
Sebastien Desabre during a special interview with Kawowo Sports Credit: © Kawowo Sports | JOHN BATANUDDE

On a sunny Thursday, 28th December 2017, Frenchman Sebastien Desabre donning a grey suit, black shirt that later became his trade-mark, and black shoes was eagerly welcomed by a swarm of journalists at Entebbe International Airport.

Hours later, he was officially unveiled before the media at a fully packed press conference at FUFA House in Kampala as Uganda Cranes head coach, to replace Milutin Sredejovic who had resigned weeks earlier.

24 hours before he took over Uganda Cranes job, Desabre who was then the head coach at Egyptian side club Ismaily also on the touch line during their 5-0 victory over El-Raja on Wednesday, 27th December 2017 in the top flight league match.

Desabre had been three other candidates who were on the final short list of four. These included interim coach Moses Basena (Ugandan), Emilio Ferrera (Belgian) and  Northern Irishman Jonathan Mckinstry.

Uganda Cranes coach Sebastein Desabre is chased down by his own players after guiding the nation to another AFCON | © JOHN BATANUDDE

The final short list had been formulated by a five man technical team headed by former Zambia FA boss Kalusha Bwalya which also had the FUFA CEO Edgar Watson, Stone Kyambadde (chairperson FUFA Technical committee), former FUFA Technical Asuman Lubowa and a government official, Bernard Patrick Ogwel.

I want to introduce a new philosophy of football in Uganda – the attacking brand of football. I am happy to be Uganda Cranes head coach. It is a transition from club football to national team football. I love fresh challenges in life and ready to do my best.

Sebastien Desabre told the media in his maiden pressure conference

Hours after he was introduced to the media, Desabre had little time to rest before he went to Mandela National Stadium outside training ground to meet with the team that was then preparing for the CHAN 2018 tournament in Morocco.

That time, Mathias Lule and Wasswa Bbosa were handling the players. He watched from a distance for a few minutes before getting closer. He later greeted Lule and the other coaching crew before he spoke to the players.

I need aggression, love for what you do and at all times commitment

Desabre told the Uganda Cranes players

A few days later, he was introduced to the head of state Yoweri Museveni Kaguta and the first lady who is also the minister of Education and sports at their country home in Rwakitura before the team was flagged off to Morocco for a training camp before the CHAN tournament.

Desabre congragulates Abraham Ndugwa after scoring against Sao Tome and Principe

The early days for the Frenchman under Uganda Cranes were not a bed of roses, drawing one all with Guinea in an international friendly match before falling 1-0 to Congo in yet another pre-CHAN friendly contest.

Uganda lost 3-1 to Zambia in the opening CHAN 2018 game and fell 1-0 to Namibia to bow out of the tournament.

In the final group game, it was a goal-less draw with West Africans Cote D’Voire.

L-R: Fred Kajoba (Goalkeeping coach), Mathias Lule (Assistant coach) and Louis Serge Sebastien Desabre during CHAN 2018 in Morocco Credit: FUFA Media

There were key vital lessons learnt from the CHAN 2018 expedition, and owing to the bold fact that the coach was hardly a month with the players, the excuses were valid.

In March 2018, FUFA organised two international friendly matches at home, winning the first one 3-1 against Sao Tome and Prinicipe before drawing goal-less against a physically endowed Malawi side.

From these two friendly matches, there were again key positives picked especially trusting fresh unknown talents as Abraham Ndugwa, then captain at now relegated Masavu to score on his debut against Sao Tome and Prinicipe.

Uganda Cranes head coach Sebastien Desabre whispers instructions to Patrick Henry Kaddu before he was introduced in the first leg against Lesotho Credit: © Kawowo Sports | JOHN BATANUDDE

Also, diaspora players as Godfrey Walusimbi, Hassan Wasswa Mawanda, Denis Onyango, Bevis Mugabi, Alex Kakuba, William Luwagga Kizito, Geofrey Baba Kizito and many others were tried out.

Next in line were two international friendly matches played in Niger.

Unfortunately, Uganda Cranes lost both, albeit in unsporting fashion, amidst claims of biased refereeing.

Uganda fell 1-0 to Central African Republic before losing 2-1 to hosts Niger in the second.

There was no hope lost since these matches were meant to offer the coach with more time to test out the crop of players at his disposal.

Sebastien Desabre poses with Uganda Cranes shirt at his unveiling Credit: © Kawowo Sports | DAVID ISABIRYE

Now came the four AFCON 2019 group L qualifiers. Uganda drew goal-less with Tanzania at home, beat Lesotho Likuena home and away 3-0 and 2-0 respectively before overpowering West Africans Cape Verde 1-0 to seal the AFCON 2019 slot (final tournament will be played in Egypt or South Africa).

Throughout all these matches, Desabre has been a believer, good preparatory coach and preacher of attacking football.

Booking a berth for Uganda Cranes to AFCON 2019 will remain his career high point as he also admitted in a post match press conference at Namboole after the Cape Verde game.

Sure, this has been the highest point of my coaching career so far.

Desabre after guiding Uganda Cranes to AFCON 2019

Like many coaches elsewhere, Desabre advocates for hard work among players and believes good preparations and planning yields dividends.

He is a known strict disciplinarian who has calmed down the dressing room and taken authority of all ill disciplinary issues as regards training, eating and resting basic etiquette.

Desabre during training

The Frenchman also portrays a fatherly stature that most players get acquitted to and feel at home.

Sébastien Desabre was born in the French city of Valence on 2nd August 1976.

He speaks French, English and Arabic.

His club coaching journey has witnessed him coach French outfit ESC Rocheville as assistant and later head coach between 2004 and 2010.

His African adventure kicked off at ASEC Mimosas (Cote D’Ivoire), CS Garoua (Cameroon),  ES Tunis (Tunisia), Clube Recreativo Desportivo Libolo (Angola), Dubai Club (United Arab Emirates4), JS Saoura (Algeria), Wydad Athletic Club (Morocco) and lately Ismaily in Egypt

He has also coached in the United Arab Emirates with Dubai Club.

The ability to scout on the opposition and his prepare his own team are two attributes where he has excelled.

Sebastien Desabre watching a Uganda Premier League game Credit: © Kawowo Sports | JOHN BATANUDDE

Also, he a keen follower of Ugandan and African football in general, often traversing the different venues to follow up on players in the domestic league and other competitions as the Uganda Cup and CAF continental engagements.

Mathias ‘Salongo’ Lule (left) is assistant coach to Sebastien Desabre. Here the two graced the 2018 Airtel FUFA Awards held at Speke Resort Munyonyo

Desabre’s three year tenure in Uganda will climax on 28th December 2020.

Uganda Cranes Games under Desabre:

  • 17th November 2018: Uganda Cranes 1-0 Cape Verde (Group L AFCON 2019 Qualifier)
  • 16th October 2018: Lesotho Likuena 0-2 Uganda Cranes (Group L AFCON 2019 qualifier)
  • 13th October 2018: Uganda Cranes 3-0 Lesotho Likuena (Group L AFCON 2019 Qualifier)
  • 8th September 2018: Uganda Cranes 0-0 Tanzania Taifa Stars (Group L AFCON 2019 Qualifier)
  • 2nd June 2018: Niger 2-1 Uganda Cranes (International Friendly Match)
  • 30th May 2018: Central African Republic 1-0 Uganda (International Friendly Match)
  • 27th March 2018: Uganda Cranes 0-0 Malawi (International Friendly Match)
  • 24th March 2018: Uganda Cranes 3-1 Sao Tome and Principe (International Friendly Match)
  • 22nd January 2018: Uganda Cranes 0-0 Ivory Coast (CHAN 2018)
  • 18th January 2018: Uganda Cranes 0-1 Namibia (CHAN 2018)
  • 14th January 2018: Zambia 3-1 Uganda (CHAN 2018)
  • 10th January 2018: Uganda Cranes 0-1 Congo (International Friendly Match)
  • 6th January 2018: Uganda Cranes 1-1 Guinea (International Friendly Match
Desabre awards Vipers Striker Daniel Sserunkuma on 9th December 2018

Uganda Cranes Coaches since 1969

  • Burkhard  Pape  – 1969-1972
  • David Otti  – 1973-1974
  • Westerhoff  Otto – 1974-1975
  • Peter Okee – 1976-1981, 1983
  • Bidandi  Ssali- 1982
  • George Mukasa – 1984-1985
  • Barnabas Mwesigwa – 1986-1988
  • Robert  Kiberu – 1988-1989
  • Polly Ouma  – 1989-1995
  • Timothy  Ayieko – 1995-1996
  • Asuman Lubowa – 1996-1999
  • Paul  Hasule – 1999
  • Harrison  Okagbue 1999-2001
  • Paul Hasule- 2001-2003
  • Pedro  Pasculi – 2003
  • Leo  Adraa – 2003-2004
  • Mike Mutebi – 2004
  • Mohammood  Abbas – 2004-2006
  • Laszlo Csaba- 2006-2008
  • Bobby William- 2008-2013
  • Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic – 2013-2017
  • Moses Basena –August 2017 – 27th December 2017
  • Sébastien Desabre – 28th December 2017 – 28th December 2020
Desabre during a new press conference at the Namboole board room Credit: © Kawowo Sports | AISHA NAKATO
Sebastien Desabre’s UEFA Pro Licence Diploma

David Isabirye is a senior staff writer for Kawowo Sports where he covers most of the major events.

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