The Observer (Kampala)

13 January 2013

Uganda: Isabirye - Ten Most Famous Club Sackings

Last week, Uganda Revenue Authority sacked its coach Alex Isabirye for the dismal showing in the ongoing Fufa Super League (FSL).

At the time of Isabirye's sacking, URA had lost six games in 13. Last year, the team only lost three matches. Isabirye's case is typical; Ugandan clubs have a tendency of parting company with successful tacticians although this is not only restricted to Uganda. In 1998, Real Madrid's Jupp Heynckes won the Champions League but the German tactician was sacked. Still, Isabirye's case came as a kind of shock to many fans, although the writing was on the wall.

Yet Isabirye has been a successful persona in sports. As a player, he helped URA win the 2008/09 league title before guiding the team to the 2010/11 league and Uganda Cup titles. Below are some of the coaches who have had a similar fate as Isabirye.

George Mukasa

After leading SC Villa to two league and one Uganda Cup (1982-1983) titles, Express FC signed Mukasa in 1984. At the time of his recruitment, Express had spent six-years without winning major silverware.

Mukasa guided The Red Eagles to the 1985 Uganda Cup title and finished behind eventual league winners SC Villa. Yet, the fans were not impressed. They demanded a change of guard. In 1986, the club signed Charles Masembe but the Wembley side posted mixed results in the first four games, forcing Masembe to flee Wembley.

Mukasa bounced back but the club finished eighth in the 1986 season and the return of former coach Robert Kiberu from Kenya at the beginning of the 1987 season put paid to Mukasa's tenure.

Moses Nsereko (RIP)

Nsereko is that midfield maestro who was known for his vision, indomitable spirit and physical prowess for both Uganda Cranes and KCC FC as a player. In 1979, he was picked as coach/player following the appointment of Jaberi Bidandi Ssali to the cabinet post. Nsereko wasted no time, winning the Uganda Cup that year and KCC successfully retained the title (Uganda Cup) the following year (1980). He would later guide the side to three league titles and two more Uganda Cup trophies.

But in the 1987 season, the team registered poor results in the first three games and when Nsambya defeated KCC 3-1, Nsereko was forced to resign, ending his 16-year glittering career with ten major titles both as a player and coach.

Polly Ouma

He returned from exile in Kenya in 1986 after handling a couple of teams and he was immediately put pen to paper to handle SC Villa. The former Cranes striker guided the Jogoos to their first "double" (league and Uganda Cup). He also helped the club to win the 1987 Cecafa title before retaining the league title a few months later.

So when club supremo Patrick Kawooya signed British tactician Goeff Hudson in 1988 as head coach, the Villa Park faithful were taken by surprise. Ouma had no option but to leave Villa Park.

Tom Lwanga

Lwanga had played for KCC for eleven years before he was picked as head coach in 1988 replacing John Latigo who had gone for a coaching course in Germany. Lwanga guided KCC to the 1990 Uganda Cup and the 1991 league title but he was sacked at the beginning of the 1992 season to pave way for former Cranes coach Barnabas Mwesiga.

Surprisingly, the club returned him towards the end of 1997 to replace Mike Mutebi who resigned after a disagreement with his bosses. Lwanga then won the 1997 league title. He was again sacked in 1998 to pave way for Danish tactician Jacobsen Flemming.

Timothy Ayiekoh

He spent eight years in the shadow of both Polly Ouma and Geoff Hudson at Villa Park, until he was appointed head coach in 1992 following the departure of Hudson. He guided SC Villa to the 1992 league title and also helped the club reach the final of Caf- Cup (Abiola Cup). In 1993 when the club lost miserably to Tanzania's Simba in the Cecafa Club Championship and failed to win any major local silverware, a section of fans and officials expressed discontent.

However, Ayieko redeemed himself when he recaptured the 1994 league title which he failed to defend in 1995 and was shown the exit

Jimmy Muguwa

When David Otti left Express to join SC Villa, Muguwa was elevated to handle the Red Eagles in 1995. Muguwa successfully won the first ever "double" for the club and also guided Express to the semi-final of Africa Club Championship (Champions League) the same year. So you can imagine his shock when the club hired Serbian coach Dragan Popadic at the beginning of the 1996 season. He left the club.

Paul Hasule

Hasule is that elegant skipper who ruled Villa Park for 11 years. He was appointed in 1998 to end a three-year trophy drought at Villa Park. In his first season, Hasule won the "double" (league and Uganda Cup) and successfully retained the league in 1999.

In 2000, he again guided SC Villa to another 'double'. He also retained the 2001 league title. But before the beginning of the 2001 season, Hasule demanded an improved contract and had a sit-down strike. Later, he was convinced and returned to Villa Park. This annoyed his bosses and it didn't come as a surprise when he was sacked in November 2001. He was replaced by Serbian tactician Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic.

George Nsimbe

The departure of Moses Basena to URA in 2008 paved way for former KCC FC player George Nsimbe to handle the Lugogo side. Nsimbe guided the club to the 2007/08 league title to end ten years of waiting. However, URA piped KCC to the 2008/09 league trophy on goal difference and shockingly, Nsimbe was given marching orders by his bosses. He was replaced by his former club team mate Sam Ssimbwa.

Moses Basena

He left KCC in 2008 after securing a lucrative deal with URA. He immediately swung into action by winning the 2008/09 league title. But mixed results in the 2009/10 season didn't please his bosses and in March 2009, he was shown the exit. He was replaced by coach/player Alex Isabirye. Last week, Isabirye faced the same fate.

The author is Director Marketing & Promotions of The Observer Media Ltd.

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