Uganda missed out on having a club in the group stages of the Caf-interclub competitions after both Vipers and KCCA failed to jump the hurdle.
UPL winners Vipers were bundled out by Botswana’s Janweng Galaxy who went on to surprise Orlando Pirates while KCCA were eliminated by novices Abu Salem of Libya.
Both teams naively lost badly away from home and despite victories at home, damage had already been done.
This is a sad state for the two giants of Ugandan football currently especially given their investment in signing foreign players and coaches mainly to take them a step level in Africa.
Both have the financial muscle to flex with some of the best teams on the continent in the transfer market but have poorly used their resources by spending on a bunch of foreign players – some not even worth competing in the domestic competitions.
Did they do panic buys? Or their scouting network on the foreign players is just unwise? Or even doesn’t exist.
With the exception of Ceaser Manzoki, Burundian Fabien Mutombora, Nigerian Abubaker Lawal and maybe Mohamed Ekbad Salem, the rest of Vipers foreign buys have been extremely poor.
If a foreign player isn’t good enough to contribute to the team when selected on a continental game, why should a club spend on him?
For others, even making the squad to play a continental game was seen as worthless by the coaches and that speaks volumes.
Players like Olivier Osomba, Ahmed Desire Tety, Pongo and Brazilian Ricardo Giancarlo didn’t even deserve to put on the Venoms jersey but millions were spent on them.
Its nearly same issue at KCCA. Against Abu Salem, game KCCA wanted to win, the coach could only field Ettiene Katenga, Joao Gabriel, centre back Gonzaga and midfield Gui but none showed qualities worth of an expatriate save maybe for Gui.
Brazilian striker Vinicius couldn’t’ even make a cut when the team badly needed goals while right back Bruno who excited in many pre-season games found himself unused as a substitute.
In addition, the management at KCCA hired a coach, Sergio Traguil whose papers don’t allow him to sit on the bench in a continental game. What a shame!
The foreigners don’t come at a cheap and so if our clubs should invest in them, then they should be of top quality.
During TP Mazembe’s dominance of African football in which they destabilized the North African dominance, Moise Katumbi and management invested in top quality international players from mainly Ghana and Zambia and it wasn’t by accident.
The club got in touch with a scouting team in those countries who got the best from those leagues and thats why from Ghana, they signed players such as Solomon Asante, Daniel Nii Adjei, Yaw Frimpong, Richard Kissi Boateng and Gladson Awako.
It was similar case in Zambia where they signed internationals Rainford Kalaba and Stopilla Sunzu among others who became the backbone of TP Mazembe in their glorious years.
Its high time Vipers and KCCA who are currently stable borrow the same approach. For the start, they target 2-3 good footballing nations on the continent, get scouting teams down there and they recommend quality players which the clubs can sign.
They must also invest in top quality coaches who have proved their worth in Africa otherwise the current managers don’t look like they are even better than our local coaches at the moment despite the privileges they get in terms of renumeration and support.
Without that, a shot at continental glory will always be scanty with less success but the dominance among the one-eyed competitors at home will continue to blind them.
For the record, KCCA hasn’t played group stages since 2018 when they played in the Caf Champions League and Caf Confederation Cup a year before while Vipers couldn’t make it back-to-back appearances after shocking TP Mazembe last year.
It’s a shame that even with the increment of teams from 8 to 16, Ugandan clubs still struggle to make consistent appearances.