By Fred Kaweesi
NESTROY Kizito knows a thing or two about what it takes to become a professional footballer.
The former Cranes star emerged from a humble background in Mutukula, to win two domestic league titles, a cup double and two best player-of-the-year awards with SC Villa, Partizan Belgrade and Vojvodina respectively.
So when Kizito singles out two particular youngsters treading a not too dissimilar path, Ugandan football had better take note.
“You need to watch these two guys Mathew Odong and Daniel Isiagi. I have plenty of hope in them. The two have the potential of becoming wonderful players,” Kizito told New Vision Sport after watching 18-year-old Isiagi and 17-year-old Odong combine to inspire SCVU to a deserved 1-0 win over DR Congo side Don Bosco on Sunday.
“Odong is a brave young man. He had the courage to rise up there and meet the ball before the keeper did. It takes character to do that,” Kizito stated.
But equally significant was Isiagi’s contribution off the bench in the final half hour of the fixture.
It is normally easy to get carried away about an 18-year-old.
But when a teenager works the channels like Isiagi did against Don Bosco, making it hard for defenders to pick him up, setting up a teammate for the eventual match-winning goal, it’s extremely hard to ignore.
The one thing that was obvious in Isiagi’s first competitive game was the mental zeal to withstand pressure, his superb first touch, abilities to press high-up the pitch and vision to thread that final through-pass.
“They were playing in their first ever competitive game. They had neither played in the league nor a cup game before. But the manner in which they responded was extraordinary,” Kizito added.
The two teenagers sounded excited with their debut performances and hope to build on that going into the final stretch of the season. “It felt okay. There was no pressure. I enjoyed the moment and hopefully I can build on that in future,” Isiagi stated.
“My performance was fair enough. It was not my best game but I know I am well capable of more than that. I will get better,” he added.
Odong told the club’s website that: “It was a great moment for me to get the goal. I thank God for the chance, he said.
“This is my first competitive game at the club. I know I did quite well but I can only work harder.”