Twenty one years ago, Uganda Kobs left a mark at the 1999 All Africa Games in South Africa.
Under the tutelage of Leo Adraa and Jimmy Muguwa as coaches, the U-23 side narrowly missed on playing in the finals of the competition after losing 1-0 to eventual winners Cameroon in the semi-finals.
They were placed in Group A that had hosts South Africa, Mali and Algeria and finished second behind the hosts with four points in three games following a win against Mali (2-0), a draw with the hosts and not even defeat to Algeria hampered the Kobs’ progression chances.
“We had belief and confidence in our abilities,” defender Andy Lule who captained the side told Kawowo Sports.
“Right from the day we qualified; we believed that we could go all the way and perform well at the final tournament.
Lule also adds that team work was a factor in the team’s performance.
“We liked each other and whoever was picked to play had the support of everyone. We had too much quality in each position but the competition was healthy.”
What happened to that Uganda Kobs Squad?
GK: Sam Kawalya – Arguably one of the best goalkeepers in the history of Express FC. The custodian was the first choice for the Kobs then. He is currently at Wankulukuku as the goalkeeping coach.
GK: Hussein Ssali – One of the highly rated goalkeepers who featured for KCCA. He later relocated to US where he lives till today.
GK: Andrew Jjombwe – Playing for SC Villa then, Jjombwe was a third choice custodian behind both Kawalya and Ssali. He is also reportedly living in the US.
Def: Mike Jjuuko – One of the few players picked outside the traditional VEK clubs. The right back was featuring for SCOUL FC then. His whereabouts are unknown.
Def: Ibrahim Ssekagya – No doubt the most successful of the lot in terms of football career. He went to play in Argentina, Austria and US before retirement and currently coaches at New York Redbulls.
In South Africa, he is most remembered for a disagreement with Andrew Mukasa after the striker refused to score after beating almost everyone.
He went on to captain the Uganda Cranes and is a highly respected figure in Ugandan football circles.
Def: Robert Kabanda – Another SCOUL FC player that made the squad.
Def: Abubaker Tabula – He was featuring for the Jogoos then. The left back went on to feature for KCCA, APR (Rwanda), had a stint in Sweden and Argentina as well as Bright Stars where he retired recently.
Def: Andy Lule – The team captain whose command at the heart of defence inspired his teammates. Lule featured for SC Villa then but also had stint at Express as well as in Vietnam. He is currently in the country and was part of the coaching staff that guided Wakiso Giants to the Uganda Premier League last year.
Def: Aggrey Bigala – The SC Villa defender played alongside Bigala in defence. He is rated as one of the best centre backs the country has ever produced but served the nation little as he flew to US after the tournament.
Mid: Bobic Odowa – Odowa was always preferred in the defensive midfield role. The ex-Express FC midfield Picasso’s whereabouts are unknown.
Mid: Morley Byekwaso – Byekwaso’s versatility saw him featured at the right side of midfield. According to Andy Lule, Byekwaso was the player whose words gave courage and belief to everyone. “Morley believed and told us we were the best regardless of which opponent we played against,” said Lule.
Byekwaso scored one of the goals against Mali in the 2-0 win for the Kobs.
After leaving KCCA, Byekwaso played for among others SC Villa and Express and on retirement, ventured into coaching. He has handled SC Victoria University, Simba and now part of Mike Mutebi’s technical team at KCCA.
Mid: Jamil Kyambadde – Nicknamed the Black Maradona in Vietnam, Kyambadde was part of a rich midfield at Coach Leo Adraa’s disposal. The midfield gem retired after playing a crucial role in Bright Stars’ promotion to the top division eight years ago and currently lives in Kawempe.
Mid: Hakim Magumba – The diminutive attacking midfielder added pace and defence splitting to the team whenever picked. Magumba who joined SC Villa from Iganga TC went on to play for the Uganda Cranes and won lots of trophies for the Jogoos.
He currently goes about own business in the city after officially retiring from the beautiful game in 2016.
Mid: Phillip Ssozi – The first choice left winger for the team. Ssozi was a provider with his accurate crosses but also had the ability to cut inside and cause havoc. Ssozi went on to win lots of trophies for SC Villa before having stints in Rwanda with APR and also in Serbia with FC Srem. He is currently at Villa Park where he handles Villa’s Junior side.
Mid: Alex Isabirye – Isabirye made the squad but had limited playing time. He later featured for SC Villa where he got nicknamed Trezeguet for his goals under coach Mulitin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic.
He ventured into coaching after retirement and has handled many sides locally though he recently landed a job in Somalia.
Mid: Mike Sebalinga – Another exciting winger picked outside the traditional VEK giants. Sebalinga who was at SCOUL then reportedly has a family in Rwanda where he spends most of his time.
Mid: Lawrence Musoke – Rasta as famously known currently lives in the UK where he works as a DJ. He was a defensive midfielder at KCCA FC then.
Mid: David Lukwago – Nicknamed Nile, Lukwago made the team while featuring for Simba SC. He deals in car batteries with a shop at Cooper Complex in the City Centre.
Fwd: Andrew Mukasa – Fimbo scored the goals that qualified the team to the final tournament but left South Africa without a goal to his name to the shock of the nation. The best memory of him at the tournament was the altercation with Ibra Ssekagya.
Mukasa beat everyone in one of the games but refused to put the ball behind the net which angered his teammates.
“I did it intentionally without having mental problems. I knew exactly what I was doing,” Mukasa was quoted as saying.
Fwd: Hassan Mubiru – Arguably the most complete forward of his generation. Mubiru partnered with Mukasa in what was a famous ‘Mu-Mu’ attack that tormented defences.
He didn’t have a good tournament either but back home; he won trophies for SC Villa and Express FC. Mubiru also had a stint in Rwanda and Sweden and retired at now defunct Victors FC.
He is part of Wasswa Bbosa’s coaching staff at Express FC at the moment.
Fwd: Eugene Ssepuya – The most travelled Ugandan footballer. Ssepuya made the cut for the team during his days at Mbale Heroes and he joined SC Villa later.
He recently retired from the beautiful game and ventured into agency.
Fwd: Robert Ssejemba – Ssejemba lives in the US and reportedly coaches one of the colleges in the country. He was a backup striker at the competition with Mukasa and Mubiru automatic choices to start.
Uganda Kobs (1999) Squad
GOALKEEPERS: Sam Kawalya (Express), Hussein Ssali (KCC FC) and Andrew Jjombwe (SC Villa)
DEFENDERS: Robert Kabanda (SCOUL), Mike Jjuuko (SCOUL), Ibrahim Sekagya (KCC FC), Aggrey Bigala (SC Villa), Andy Lule (Express) and Abubaker Tabula (SC Villa).
MIDFIELDERS: David Lukwago (Simba), Bobic Odowa (Express), Morley Byekwaso (KCC FC), Kyambadde Willy (KCC FC), Phillip Ssozi (SC Villa), Mike Sebalinga (Nile), Hakim Magumba (SC Villa), Alex Isabirye (Express FC) Lawrence Musoke (KCC FC).
FORWARDS: Hassan Mubiru (SC Villa), Andrew “Fimbo” Mukasa (SC Villa), Robert Sejjemba (Police FC) and Eugene Ssepuya (Mbale Heroes).
Key players that missed All African Games:
Authur Byansiima (USA), David Obua (USA), Geoffrey Bukohore (USA), Wilber Musika (USA), James Odoch (Injury), Baker Mbowa (Injury).
Others; Harunah Mawa, Senabulya Baker, Gayi Wilson, Abed Bironse, Med Nsubuga, Henry Kabeta, Kisa Jalendo, Livingstone Mbabazi, Semanda Joseph, and David Kalungi.