Jackson Mayanja with Bobby Williamson Credit: Kawowo Sports | JOHN BATANUDDE

Nine years ago, Uganda Cranes drew goalless with Kenya at Namboole in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations finals.

However, the expulsion of David Obua from the Uganda Cranes camp 24 hours to the arguably the most important game for the nation has remained the talk.

Former Fufa President Lawrence Mulindwa

Until today, most football loving Ugandans have pointed fingers at Lawrence Mulindwa, then Fufa president for the decision with many having an opinion that had Obua played, maybe the country would qualified for the continental showpiece.

Bobby Williamson, then Uganda Cranes coach refused to comment on the incident in detail but in an interview with Daily Nation, the Scot reveals the real truth behind Obua’s expulsion and says he took the decision with the FA president.

David Obua and Geoffrey Massa scored for Uganda against Lesotho in 2006 Credit: © Kawowo Sports | JOHN BATANUDDE

“Obua walked out on President Museveni who’d come to camp to visit the team before a crucial game,” narrates Williamson who resides in Nairobi, Kenya.

“I agreed with (then) Uganda FA President (Lawrence Mulindwa) that he had to be punished.

“I removed him from the squad. He was not going to play anyway as he’d not trained all week. He was not getting too much play-time at his club. He was unfit.”

Tales of betrayal and back-stabbing from football administrators at FUFA

The 59 year old Scottish coach who won four Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup titles also talks about the Fufa officials who made his job difficult by unsettling players, the media that didn’t cover the dirt and a particular official who ensured he was sacked so as to bring in Mulitin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic.

Bobby Williamson

“My job was made more difficult when officials at the federation (FUFA) tried to unsettle and sell players before a major tournament (the 2014 Africa Nations Championship) behind my back.

“One particular official worked to bring in my successor (Micho) behind my back. At times, players would go partying before matches and the media appeared to know and protect them.”

How a missed flight changed Bobby’s mind after he rejected the Uganda Cranes job

The former Chester United tactician who went on to coach Gor Mahia and the Harambee Stars after leaving Uganda in an interesting tale says he got the Cranes job, rejected it but missing a flight back home and watching a replay of a UPL game changed his mind.

Bobby Williamson

“I’d just left (coaching English side Chester) and was waiting for the next chance. An agent told me there could be an opening in Uganda after (Romanian coach) Laslo Csaba quit to join (Scottish side) Hearts. An interview was organised in London with my employer. I didn’t know much about Uganda. So I told him ‘if I am to coach Uganda wouldn’t it be better if I did the interview in Kampala?’

Bobby Williamson

“We arrived in Kampala a few days later and I was handed the job. I insisted on having a look at the training grounds before signing the contract,” he narrates.

“A driver came to pick me from the hotel at 6pm and drove me to the main stadium (Namboole).

“The night was creeping in and (at the time) there were no street lights, people had lit bonfires at the side of the road, probably to provide lighting. At the stadiums, there were several policemen sleeping on the tarmac, terraces and even on the pitch without mattresses.

Mandela National Stadium, Namboole playing surface (Photo by John Batanudde). Credit: © Kawowo Sports | JOHN BATANUDDE

The driver informed me of a recruitment drive involving the police. So the stadium acts as a recruitment centre, training ground, and match venue. I thought about it and decided not to take the job.”

“I informed my agent who informed the federation I had turned down the job. The following evening we drove to the airport in Entebbe to catch a flight back to the UK but for some reason we couldn’t board. I think the flight was full. So we settled in at a hotel in Entebbe to wait for the next available flight.”

League action between KCCA and Police FC Credit: © Kawowo Sports | JOHN BATANUDDE

“That night, I switched on TV and watched a replay of a Ugandan league match. I was amazed by how the players were talented, controlling a football on bumpy pitches as passionate crowds cheered them on. In the morning, I took a walk at the (Lake Victoria) beach outside my hotel and saw a very beautiful country, scenery, weather, the people, everything was amazing. It was like I was in another world. I changed my mind and decided to stay. Thankfully, the management again agreed to hand me the job.”

Bobby Williamson on how he changed decision

Williamson went on to become the most successful national team coach in the Cecafa region with four titles, guided Uganda Cranes to Chan 2011 qualification, and won the league title with Gor Mahia FC in Kenya.

A couple of years ago, he was diagnosed with cancer and currently lives in Nairobi.  

Senior Staff writer at Kawowo Sports mainly covering football

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