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Saturday,September 22,2018 21:53 PM

Micho and Mutebi prove that patience pains but pays

By Aldrine Nsubuga

Added 19th June 2017 12:52 PM

From the terraces, coaches philosophies and tactics are scrutinized and debated.

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From the terraces, coaches philosophies and tactics are scrutinized and debated.

There are three things that define the game of football; the first, results; the second, results and the third, results. Black or white, this game has no mercy. Coaches and players, are only as good as their last result.

From the terraces, coaches philosophies and tactics are scrutinized and debated.

From the media space,  results are dissected and analyzed as if there are  no experts in the field. Ex-footballers are accepted as pundits, commentators are taken as game experts, while football columnists are respected for their opinions. It’s a world where friends today turn foes tomorrow, where experience does not always prove correctness and where values are a matter of conjecture.

It’s been that kind of world for Cranes Serbian coach, Milutin Sredojevic and KCCA FC coach, Mike ‘Salongo’ Mutebi. Four years ago, Micho’s appointment split hairs with many accusing the football federation for lacking vision and finding comfort in mediocrity. They argued that a coach who had been a failure with the Rwandese national team for two years, would only stagnate the Cranes if not drag it, backwards.

Their comparison – unfair of course – was with his predecessor Bobby Williamson who, for coming so close to qualifying for the finals of AFCON on two occasions, had won over hearts. That he was a professional coach from Europe, had played it’s part in biasing his admirers.

Not unsurprisingly, Micho’s start was as unsteady as his character then. For the SC Villa faithful with whom he heard served so successfully in the early 2000s for four years, he was the lucky charm Uganda needed.

His most defining qualities; passion, commitment, local knowledge and tactical nous, had led Villa to enormous success and they were sure he would do the same for Cranes. But rival fans saw it otherwise. Without first giving him a chance, they accused him of bias, intrigue and divisiveness. In the first three years of his contract, he has had a bitter sweet romance with fans.

That all changed last year when he led Uganda to her first appearance at the AFCON finals in 39 years. He became the miracle worker, the magician, the saviour. Everything in the past forgotten. And after weaving his magic wand again in the first game of the 2019 AFCON qualification campaign away against Cape Verde last weekend to register a 1-0 win, the entire nation was fully converted, it seems. Micho is happy, everyone is happy. We can move forward. Micho’s patience and self belief have brought him this far.

Mutebi’s story is even more engaging. Once accused of being outlandish in his management ideals and nearly in accomplishment, he is now praised as the model local coach. The first KCCA FC coach to win a league and cup double in history and also the first to take the club to the group stages of a CAF competition, is getting rave reviews from everyone, including rival fans who once demonized him. Coach of the year last season and runaway candidate for coach of the year this season, there’s little doubt that he’s the next big thing in Ugandan football.

For being abused, ridiculed, insulted and un appreciated, he abandoned coaching and went into private business in the late 2000s. He was personally hurt that after laying down his life for football, unearthing lots of talent and moulding them to star status at various levels, he was instead cheated and trampled underfoot by different clubs. He worked for seasons without pay and resorted to courts of law which also didn’t yield much.

But just when he had completely resigned and lost all passion for the coaching profession, his closest friends (your columnist on the shortlist) stepped in the gap and lured him back. “If not for the game, at least for we your brothers,” we pleaded. So when the club of his passion KCCA came back knocking, he felt it was the right timing. He was given a handsome contract and every condition he once dreamed of for a coach. The results are there for all to see. Patience was key. Talent can never be suppressed..  

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