martes, 31 de diciembre de 2013
Football from the inside (II): Uganda
Our second post of this section is about Ugandan football. We have spoken with Ismael Kiyonga (@kiyongaismael), SC Villa fan and www.kawowo.com contributor.
- Do you think Ugandan football is not in its finest moment after your national team was eliminated really soon both FIFA World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations qualifications?
It’s been long since Ugandan football went into disaster and failing to qualify for AFCON and WC are just climaxes. Its high time administrators realized this and got back to the drawing board otherwise, qualification for AFCON and WC finals will forever remain a dream. There is no way Uganda was going to qualify with a mediocre league that is uncompetitive. In this part of Africa, you can’t depend on foreign based players only to deliver but also local based players who are competitively involved in football with a quality league not the one in Uganda currently.
- Do you believe Uganda deserved more in CECAFA Cup, where it was eliminated by Tanzania in Penalties in Quarter-Finals?
From the onset, Uganda was never amongst my favourites to lift this year’s championship depending on the preparations. The Likes of Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan and Zambia appeared more prepared than Uganda right from the start. The Cranes lacked enthusiasm in their game and were never passionate. Even when Tanzania went a man down immediately after recess, the Cranes didn’t up their game and they could have easily lost in the closing minutes had Tanzania been sharp upfront. Reports of lack of motivation were heard even prior to their last group game against Sudan and I guess this switched them off. They got what they deserved in my opinion.
- Your next aim is doing well in African Nations Championship in January in South Africa. Have you got any chance against Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso and Morocco?
The Cranes can do better but am worried the preparations for this tournament are still wanting. The Cecafa Cup was meant to be the best preparation for this cup but amazingly, no local based striker was part of the team and with news that Emma Okwi just like Godfrey Walusimbi is restricted, it means the Cranes will go into the tourney with inexperienced players upfront. Besides, the local players have not had the best of competitions in the league and my thought is that they will struggle past organized states like Morocco, Zimbabwe and Burkina Faso.
- Why are there any important players like Sekagya or Kasule do not play with Uganda since some years ago?
Ibrahim Sekagya is now retired and so is Kasule but the latter was no important to Cranes in any way. Players like David Obua and Nestroy Kizito also hanged their boots but those are available still feature.
- Is there a crisis also on club terms due to URA elimination in the Preliminary Round of the Champions League and any Ugandan team participated in Confederation Cup?
Not really. Its long time since a Ugandan club last performed well in Caf club competitions so I guess they are used. On a number of occasions, clubs win local competitions and even fail or refuse to represent the country and no one cares. That explains the crisis in Ugandan football.
- I think Emmanuel Okwi is the most promising player for SC Villa and Uganda national team. Do you agree with me?
There is no doubt about that but it’s high time he turned promise into potential before his good years are left behind him. Luck always comes once but Okwi is lucky to have had more opportunities to lift his standards but all gone to waste. Can you imagine he missed opportunities to join Red Bull Salzburg, Parma and recently left Tunisia’s Etoile Du Sahel for SC Villa – a club embroiled in administration wrangles??
Thankfully, he recently got a deal at Yanga in Tanzania. Maybe that will help rejuvenate his game but only if he gives it 100%
- The arrivals of Okwi and Walusimbi to SC Villa will play an important role for fighting for the champions trophy in league again, don´t they?
There is no doubt about that. The two have quality in them and they can inspire SC Villa to glory but only if they play their hearts out. Unfortunately, Okwi has left for Yanga (TZ) and Walusimbi is on Gor Mahia’s wanted list.
- At the end of the first stage of Ugandan league, there are 9 teams at the top of the table separated only by 6 points. Any predictions for league champion?
It’s a bit tight at the top but I still fancy KCC FC, SCVU, Vipers and SC Villa to battle for the title till the closing stages. No clear favourite as inconsistency is a common episode in our teams.
- How important is Kagame Interclub Cup for your clubs?
It’s very important since it provides opportunity to our players to encounter regional competitions. Besides, it’s a source of revenue for the club just in case it finishes in the top three and this is just enough motivation to help the players to compete at a high level.
- What is the average attendance of an Ugandan Premier League match?
I must confess that league football no longer attracts mammoth crowds like it used to 8 years ago. Though clubs like SC Villa and KCC FC once in a while boost of over 500 fans at home, some clubs struggle to get 50people. The average attendance currently is less than 200 fans.
- How do you consider matches tickets are in Uganda? Expensive, normal or cheap?
I think they are cheaply priced. For instance, at just $ 2, u can watch games from the ordinary sections and utmost $ 5 for pavilion seats (VIP).
- Is the relationship between press, players and coaches very close there?
It depends but most of our players and coaches are not used to the press. Most can’t talk confidently to the press. The gap has remained wide just because coaches and players have a phobia for press.
- How do fans live the Kampala derbies between KCC FC and SC Villa?
Gone are the days when such games would bring Kampala to a standstill. Since 2004, these have turned into normal games and fans are no longer attracted to them like it used to be.
Surprising but true, such games can be played with just a few people noticing.
- What does the Ugandan Federation need to improve for level of the clubs grow up?
First, the FA needs to let clubs run the top flight league like its done elsewhere in the world and instead of doing much work, they concentrate on supervision and guidance when called upon.
Secondly, the FA should create a good atmosphere for sponsors to come join the clubs instead of being hostile to them. For instance, just a year after the league had gotten Uganda Breweries (Bell) and Supersport as title and league sponsors, the FA chased them out just because of selfishness instead of finding away to collaborate the standards of the game.
Since then, clubs lack money to pay their players and some even have no jerseys but the FA is not bothered.
- Are the players of Ugandan teams professionals or amateurs?
Under the Jinja Declaration (JDC) –an agreement reached by the FA and super league club in 2010, it was assumed that all players plying their trade domestically would be professionals but this hasn’t been achieved. The FA overtook the running of the league, players are not paid and those who get payments rarely get their salaries on time.
In my observation, they are still amateurs.
- Do you think Uganda will host any big tournament (e.g. African Cup of Nations) in the near future?
I don’t think so. First, there are no facilities in terms of standard stadia to host these games. Besides Mandela stadium Namboole, no other stadium in Uganda is worth hosting an international game and thus only a dreamer can expect that to happen.
Just recently in 2012, Uganda almost failed to host CECAFA Challenge Cup since the rains made Namboole unplayable.
- Thanks for your words..