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Saturday,October 24,2020 18:38 PM

Soccer at its best and worst

By Vision Reporter

Added 4th January 2001 03:00 AM

The year 2000 brought renewed hope for the Cranes but administrative blunders and soccer hooliganism continued to ruin whatever success was achieved, writes Joseph Kabuleta.

The year 2000 brought renewed hope for the Cranes but administrative blunders and soccer hooliganism continued to ruin whatever success was achieved, writes Joseph Kabuleta.

The year 2000 brought renewed hope for the Cranes but administrative blunders and soccer hooliganism continued to ruin whatever success was achieved, writes Joseph Kabuleta. Ibrahim Mugisha and Andy Lule are two players that have had different fortunes in 2000. One started on a low and ended on a high, while the reverse was true for the other. At the turn of the new Millennium, goalkeeper Mugisha appeared to have come to the end of the road. A shoulder injury sustained playing for Villa against SCOUL in 1998 had limited him to just a few league appearances the year after, at the end of which he was slashed off Villa's roster. Not a single club was interested in him and Mugisha, 24, had decided to take the easier route of his dilemma –– to retire and try his talents elsewhere. Yet in January 2000, things couldn't be better for Andy Lule. The stocky player was the Kobs captain and commanded a regular place at the heart of Express' defense. The careers of the two players have since taken dramatic turns, in opposite directions, over the last 366 days. Veteran coach David Otti convinced Mugisha that it was too early to quit and that he still had something to prove. "That was precisely what I wanted to hear and I immediately dumped my retirement plans," Mugisha said. At Military, under the guidance of Otti, Mugisha promptly became the number one –– and that was just the beginning. At about the same time that he was picking up his best form, Cranes custodian Sam Kawalya was leaking goals at an alarming rate. So when coach Harrison Okagbue traversed the country's training grounds in search for a replacement, Mugisha's hand was raised above the rest. He was presented with a chance and took it, literary, with two hands. Having seen the way Hussein Ssali, then Kawalya had let complacency cut shot their stay at the top, Mugisha's determination knows no bounds. "I can't get complacent, I want to be different, if I relax someone else will step in," he said. That, apparently, is the reason he insisted on playing for the national team even when it was clear his shoulder still hurt. When Otti signed as KCC coach and carried Mugisha along with him, the goalkeeper's transformation had reached full circle. Andy Lule's shift in fortunes was equally dramatic, but in the reverse direction. He was blamed for a late Angola goal that ensured that Kobs completed the Olympic campaign empty handed and then, with Ibrahim Sekajja, cut out as clowns when Guinea built in-roads through Cranes defense in an assembly of errors that ended in a 4-4 draw. Then Lule turned back on the aborted Express trip to Barifa for a league match against Villa and was promptly dropped by the Red Eagles and, consequently, by the national team. After several months on the move, Lule signed for Military Police. His decline, too, had gone the full circle. Strangely, the fate of many people in 2000 followed a similar pattern. On his arrival Okagbue was put in charge of the Kobs and his maiden training session was on January 3, about a month before the U-23s hosted a Nigerian team fresh from the Nations Cup. He, too, had to jump at the deep end. Kobs lost that game 3-2, then fell 1-0 in Lagos and then lost by a similar score to Angola, results that left Okagbue struggling to keep afloat. But the Nigerian's fortunes have changed a great deal and he finished the year in a very stable position after Cranes beat Malawi 5-2 on aggregate in the Nations Cup qualifier and went on to beat Guinea 3-1. Uganda also won the Castle Cup in Nairobi and carried both its teams into the final of the CECAFA Challenge Cup. Now when Okagbue says that Cranes are going to beat Senegal many Ugandans are willing to join in the chorus. SC Villa entered the season as champions and left as ... what else? On January 3, the Blues followed up their VEK Cup victories over KCC with another 2-1 beating of the Men in Yellow in what was called the Millennium Cup. They proceeded to beat KCC and Express to the national Hedex Cup before beating Simba of Tanzania twice to win the regional Hedex Cup. Villa, of course, made good on that pre-season blitz winning the League and Cup double. Just when action subsided, Hassan Mubiru, the most distinguished figure in the Villa team that won five trophies in three years, surprised everyone with a move to Express. On the very opening day of the transfers, the 22-year-old Cranes marksman effected a move which almost certainly made all the other transfers look insignificant. Villa promptly snapped up Mathias Ndawula from Chicago, and Maurice Sunguti from Express and a host of other potentially good players. The champions have attempted to convince their fans that the loss of Mubiru will not affect the club's overall performance, but their post-season form suggests otherwise. Four defeats at the hands of KCC in the space of a fortnight have seen Villa miss out on the VEK Cup, the Eid El Fitr Cup and Abitex-sponsored year-ender. Insignificant as those defeats might seem, they have raised so many eyebrows and severely eroded the champions' confidence. The Nile Special Super League had enjoyed a relatively smooth run until Yusuf 'Chuni' Kyeyune stepped in and pulled State House, as good as relegated, out of the race with the intention of using the players to get Chicago promoted. Believe it or not, he got away with it and even had the audacity to pronounce that newly promoted Chicago was changing name to State House Sports Club. Incredible! There were better standards of refereeing in 2000 and the level of competition improved. KCC have been kicking themselves for not lasting the distance but they will always have another shot. The CECAFA senior Challenge Cup in November laid FUFA bear and left their flaws open for the world to see. Against all sound advice, the federation lined up the national team in a foreign club jersey and now have to pay dearly for it. FUFA have a valid excuse in pleading lack of money for the embarassing saga that saw visiting teams thrown out of hotels during the tournament, Granted. But the fact that they wanted to shift the matches to Nambole just because Nakivubo had paid up pending hotel bills off FUFA's gate share shows that they are not willing to change - until they are changed. Ends.

Soccer at its best and worst

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