Paying last respects to the body of Ibrahim Dafala at the family home in Kitubulu - Tanda, Katabi Town Council

Under rainy conditions, it was a somber mood as one of the most respected former Uganda Cranes and Express Football Club legendary defender Ibrahim “The British” Dafala was laid to rest on Thursday, September 16, 2021.

Hundreds of people graced the burial of the towering defender who captained Uganda Cranes at the 1968 African Cup of Cup finals in Ethiopia, won four CECAFA trophies and two titles at Express Football Club.

Dafala, a former defender was laid to rest at his family’s ancestral home found in Katabi Town Council, Tanda – Kitubulu village, Wakiso District.

Ibrahim “The British” Dafala being laid to his eternal resting home (Credit: David Isabirye)

Family members, relatives, the football fraternity, friends and well-wishers braved the chilly and rainy conditions to accord the legend a decent final send off on earth.

1978 Uganda Cranes finalist Paul Ssali, long serving Uganda Cranes captain George Ssimwogerere, Sam Ssimbwa, Abel Nasur Muteguya, Ali Babulu, Daudi Kyeyune Ssemanda (Germany coach), Edward Nsubuga, Sam Ssimbwa, Isaac Nkadda, Simon Peter Musoke Ssekabbanja, Godfrey Nyoola, Issa Ssekatawa, Lawrence Kizito and others are some of the former servants for the beautiful game who attended the burial ceremony.

Sam Ssimbwa (holding the microphone) with other ex-internationals at Kitubulu, Tanda (Credit: David Isabirye)

Veteran former administrator Adam Muhammad Agada, 95, delivered a moving testimony about the deceased.

Agada was teammate with Dafala at Entebbe UMEA primary school in the 1940’s as well as Entebbe Football Club.

“Ibrahim British Dafala was a very hard working football. He did not miss a training session and very disciplined because he never committed fouls nor disrespected the opponents. He leaves a legacy to the current generation of players” Agada eulogized.

Adam Muhammad Agada with his speech. He played football with Dafala during the early stages (Credit: David Isabirye)

Two of Dafala’s former teammates at one of the first clubs he played for; Young Salumbey; Abbey Nasur Muteguya and Ali Babulu (former goalkeeper) showered praises to the deceased.

“Ibrahim Dafala was exemplary and down to earth. He loved to win at all times” Babulu attested. “His work ethic was out of this world. He was too disciplined” Nasur added.

Ali Babulu (left) and Abbey Nasur (Credit: David Isabirye)

Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) was also well represented.

Former Uganda Cranes and KCCA goalkeeper Paul “Gogolimbo” Ssali delivered the FUFA President Moses Magogo’s message and Shs 1,500,000 condolence token.

“It is saddening that the country has lost Ibrahim Dafala. He was a loyal and gallant servant of the game who won titles in the CECAFA tournament and also captained Uganda Cranes at the 1969 Africa Cup of Nations” Magogo noted in a message read by Ssali.

Paul Ssali with his speech at the Ibrahim Dafala burial (Credit: David Isabirye)

For starters, he was nick-named British after a study trip to the United Kingdom with national broadcaster for BBC training.

During this time, he trained with Manchester United and Cardiff football clubs, becoming the first Ugandan to play at the two English sides.

Throughout the 18 year club career, he only featured at Express Football club for his commitment to the job and thus the second nick name, ‘Life Captain’.

Some of the former footballers who attended the burial of Ibrahim Dafala (Credit: David Isabirye)

In 1961, Dafala got a call-up to the Buganda region team for the Aspro Cup (Regional Cup) where he played gallantly before attracting the eyes of the national team selectors and fans alike.

His moment arrived 12 months later when the national team head coach then, Clive Bond summoned him alongside 10 other Express players after convincing in a build up that Express won 3-1.

In fact, he was part of the 1962 Uganda Cranes team that qualified for the Africa Nations Cup in Ethiopia.

Ibrahim ‘British’ Dafala displays the Uganda Cranes 1960’s photo (Credit: David Isabirye) Credit: © Kawowo Sports | DAVID ISABIRYE

Being the most junior player on the team, he never featured in any of the matches.

The same year, he won the Gossage Cup and the subsequent year in 1963. From then onwards, he was part of the national team for the next 7 years.

He was also part of Coach Robert Kiberu’s Cranes side that played in the 1968 Afcon games in Ethiopia.

George Ssimwogerer, Isaac Nkadda was one of the former players who saw off Ibrahim Dafala (Credit: David Isabirye)

Uganda lost all their group games against Egypt, Ghana and hosts Ethiopia.

He also won three consecutive Cecafa titles in 1968, 1969 and 1970 came as a relief.

He was part of the Uganda Cranes team that toured West Germany where they lost 7-0 but earned special Addidas Boots for his outstanding display.

Dafala died on Wednesday, 15th September 2021 after a long time of illness precipitated by a recent fracture of pelvis bone after an awkward fall in the house.

He is survived by 12 children with several grand-children.

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

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