By Fred Kaweesi
Uganda’s 2013 Africa Nations Cup qualifying destiny could be decided by Algerian referee Djamel Hamoudi.
The 42-year-old is regarded as one of the leading referees in world football and the Confederation of Africa football (CAF) has decided to assign him this particular fixture because of his vast experience over the years.
Apart from officiating qualifiers for the World Cup, the CAF Champions League, three African Nations Cups and the 2011 World Cup U-20 tournament, Hamoudi is among the 52 officials shortlisted for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
He was promoted to FIFA’s elite category at the start of the 2004 season and his eight years of experience front him as the ideal man for duty between the Cranes and the African Champions next Saturday.
On the evidence of the 1-0 first leg result in Ndola, a lot has been told of the passion and emotions that will go into the second leg and Hamoudi will be advised not to be card-happy due to the tackles that will fly in from both sides during the course of the 90 minutes.
Cranes coach Bobby Williamson will also have to ask his charges to keep cool heads as Hamoudi is also a renowned disciplinarian, who will not hesitate assuming his nonsense approach.
Hamoudi has issued 132 yellow cards and 13 red cards in his eight years as an international referee.
Retired Ugandan FIFA official Ali Tomusange worked with Hamoudi long enough and describes him as the best candidate to handle a game of such a huge magnitude.
“He is a good referee and has the potential to make it to the 2014 World Cup. I am sure he can handle any game at any level,” Tomusange pointed.
Hamoudi’s previous assignment was the Nations Cup qualifier between Egypt and Central African Republic in Borg El Arab Stadium where the hosts lost 3-2.
His appointment will trigger some degree of optimism among Ugandans considering his neutral French-speaking Algerian origin. Hamoudi has also never refereed either country at any international level, adds sports writer Swalley Kenyi.
The luck that comes with North African officials
It must be noted though that Uganda has over the years enjoyed a significant share of good luck each time North Africans have taken charge of her fixtures.
In 2007, the Cranes registered their most memorable win after stunning African giants Nigeria with a 2-1 victory in a game handled by Egyptian referee Mohamed Farouk Mahmoud.
In 2010, Uganda yet again claimed the scalps of another giant Angola with a 3-0 hammering in a fixture handled by Egyptian referee Samir Osman Mahomoud.
On June 16 this year, Moroccan referee El Ahrach Bouchaib took charge of Cranes’ 4-0 demolition of Congo Brazzaville in a preliminary qualifier.
Born : 1970-12-10
Country : Algeria
Speaks : Arabic, French, English
Hobbies : Sport, Sightseeing