11 December 2012

Uganda: Cranes Future Taking Shape

Fast-rising Geoffrey 'Baba' Kizito, Moses Oloya and Joseph Ochaya are already established players for the national team. That said, the trio could also be the solution to aid Uganda's docile attack in years to come, writes Elly Kyeyune.

Since the turn of the millennium, Ugandans have longed for a player that has ability to unlock defences with little success. That's a creative midfielder who can hold the ball, supply assists and where necessary, score goals.

David Obua was the closest to the task but his low work rate and inability to track back meant he was most effective going forward or with the ball at his feet.

Before him was Jamil Kyambadde and Asani Bajope but both these players failed the consistency test and disappeared into oblivion just about the same time they were about to hit the peak.

In the absence of Obua, Cranes coach Bobby Williamson has tried out Mike Serumaga and Steven Bengo with topsy-turvy results until he literally gave up - to the extent of fielding three out and out strikers at times.

Little has changed since then but the advent of Baba has sprung new life in The Cranes attack. For starters, he is not the creative midfielder Uganda is longing for and neither does he often make defence-splitting passes.

But, Baba more than makes up for his disadvantages in speed and size with a tireless work rate that keeps opponents guessing his next move. Looking at the way he commanded the field in the just-concluded Cecafa Cup, one would be fooled to think he's been a Cranes mainstay for years.

Yet until his stellar debut against Zambia in September, few Ugandans knew about him. He seamlessly fitted in the senior team and won several praises but many were quick to dismiss the performance as a one-off.

Then came the second leg in Kampala in which he dominated the more illustrious opponents and summed a good display by coolly converting his spot-kick despite the heartbreaking loss in the end.

Come the Cecafa Cup, Baba rarely put a foot wrong in all the six matches and in many books, he was man-of-the-match in at least three of those matches as Uganda continued its dominance of the tournament. He doesn't do anything flashy and neither does he seek unwarranted attention but Baba just went about his job with determination.

Oloya, Ochaya hold key to Uganda's wing play

One of the keys to Uganda's Cecafa success was the dynamic wing play by Moses Oloya on the right and Joseph Ochaya on the left. Their understanding when to go wide or cut left many a defender bamboozled.

Ochaya's speed and directness not only opened up running spaces for strikers but the Asante Kotoko winger's flick-ons attracted several fouls, particularly in the semi against Tanzania.

However, the most unpredictable player is Oloya - perhaps the only ball player in the team. He always had more than one marker but somehow Oloya controlled the ball with sheer ease as if the ball was glued to his feet.

The 20-year-old's meteoric rise has effectively wiped out the once hot debate on right wing position because no one comes close to his technical abilities. Meanwhile, Godfrey Walusimbi already appears like a veteran in the team.

The unofficial team leader from left back, Walusimbi hardly puts a foot wrong and the 23-year-old is the unanimous heir apparent to skipper Andy Mwesigwa. Along with the likes of right back Dennis Iguma, Henry Kalungi and Isaac Isinde, the future of the national team is rapidly taking shape.

No disrespect to seniors like Simeon Masaba and Tony Mawejje but after years of nearmisses, it's perhaps time to handle the mantle to a new generation.

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