EMUGE'S no-nonsense approach, bravery and physical presence have fast-transformed him into a fearsome character for all opposition in Kenya
By Fred Kaweesi
KENYAN football has produced decent footballers over the years. From Mahmoud Abbas, Josephat Murila, Bobby Ogola to Denis Oliech, Victor Wanyama, they have had all kinds of players that have proved to be significantly skilled, elegant on the ball and physical.
As recent as three seasons ago, there was all this media-hype about local-based stars George Owino, James Situma, Orsborne Monday and Francis Ouma.
But all that was before a certain Dan Sserunkuuma joined Kenyan giants Gor Mahia. That was before another Ugandan Israel Emuge followed the pint-sized striker to the same club four months ago.
The two Ugandans now seem to sum up the very best of Kenyan football.
Enough has been seen and said of Serunkuuma, considering his achievements with Gor Mahia throughout the previous season in which he stood for both inspiration and artistry.
His contributions to Gor Mahia’s title run-in against eventual winners Tusker were immeasurable and his 17 goals tally an unbelievable return for a player whose tiny size was dwarfed by 99% of the defenders he battled week-in-week-out.
His first touch continues to be brilliant and movement into the box brilliant enough to counter even gangly defenders twice his 5ft 1inch size.
It’s why he was rewarded with Kenya Premier League’s Player of the year award, an accolade he might retain considering his exciting start to the current season.
Last weekend, Sserunkuuma yet again proved the difference in Kenya’s historic derby between Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards with the all-important goal on 74 minutes.
It ought to be said that it is Sserunkuma’s two goals that helped Gor Mahia beat Leopards 2-1 in their second leg tie last season at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.
But while Sserunkuuma continues to find the goals upfront, Emuge has similarly claimed all the plaudits for ensuring clean sheets at the back for Gor Mahia.
With eight games played so far, Gor Mahia have the best defensive record of four goals conceded so far in the 16-team league and this has had a lot to do with Emuge’s resolute performances at the club.
And just to show how grateful they were, DSTV rewarded the Ugandan defender with the man-of-the-match award after his match-winning debut performance against Mathare United early in February this year.
Emuge’s presence has helped Gor Mahia build play from the back, more so with some level of consistency.
Emuge deserves a chance
As FUFA prepare to assemble a Cranes side for next month’s two World Cup qualifiers against Liberia and Angola, it’s probably the right time to consider this gangly Gor Mahia defender.
He has worked hard and deserves his place on the national team. There is no doubt Emuge will significantly improve Cranes back-four.
He is an intelligent player, with decent height and the only ballplaying centre-half at present.
Emuge’s no-nonsense approach, bravery and physical presence have fast-transformed him into a fearsome character for all opposition in Kenya.
There are a couple of fine defenders in the Cranes team, but without Emuge’s abilities, by which I mean, his ability to make timely last-ditch tackles, courageous blocks and most important, the authority with which he attacks the ball in the air.
If we can utilize next month’s qualifiers as ‘build-up’ fixtures, it will allow the likes of Emuge into the team ahead of more crucial engagements in 2014.
Emuge charms Gor Mahia fans