From the likes of Vincent Kayizzi to Robert Ssentongo, Ugandan football is not short of senior players. And the old timers are still showing their steely sides on the pitch.
Young players may be spritely and exciting, but there is something pleasing about their ageing counterparts, who, in the Ugandan context, having continued to perform on the pitch. We take a look at some of the players that are defying their age in local football.
Having played for Police, Bloemfontein Celtic, KCCA FC, Bidvest Wits, Vasco da Gama, SC Victoria University, Lweza, Buildcon, Napsters and now at Wakiso Giants, you could say that Geoffrey Sserunkuma has had an eventful sporting career. The striker first began playing for the Cranes in 2002. He was part of the Uganda Cranes team that participated in the 2016 Championship of Africa Nations tournament in Rwanda and scored against Zimbabwe in their 1-1 draw. Sserunkuma, who claims to be 36 years old, was one of the six locally-based players in the Cranes squad that represented Uganda in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations at Gabon. He enjoyed success at KCCA, before moving to Ethiopia. He is one the prolific forwards that Uganda has produced. When he returned at KCCA, he became the topscorer of the league with 21 goals during the 2016-2017 season.
Don't be decieved by his height. Robert Ssentongo is one of the few strikers and players in the country that have won the league topscorer accolade four times. The other is the late Majid Musisi. Ssentongo made his senior international debut for Uganda in 2004 when he appeared in the FIFA World Cup qualifying matches. Ssentongo, who has featured for more than seven teams in his career, is currently at Kyetume. The forward, who claims to be 31, had his career laced with indiscipline cases in almost every club he has played for. He enjoyed success at KCCA in 2006, 2008 and 2009.
Vincent Kayizzi is arguably one of the best right-wingers that Uganda has produced. The 35-year-old started his journey at then-KCC, before moving to Rwandan football club APR FC. In January 2009, he moved to Europe to play in Serbian First League (Serbian second tier) club FK Srem Sremska Mitrovica, known simply as FK Srem, a club that is a pioneer in Europe in bringing other Ugandan players, like Nestroy Kizito and Phillip Ssozi. He later had another stint in Europe, when he played with Motor Lublin in the 2012-13 Polish Second League. Kayizzi, who has won league titles in Uganda, is currently the captain at Kyetume, a topflight side.
Brian Umony started playing football at an early age, but struggled to get onto the school teams as he was constantly overlooked because of his small stature. Umony is one of the sportsmen that was groomed from Naguru, a sports hub for many athletes. KCCA, where he started his journey, SuperSport United, University of Pretoria, Becamex Binh Duong and Azam are some of the teams he has played for. Umony has had his career marred by injuries. He claims to be 31 and is currently at Proline on a six-month contract.
Patrick Ochan is one of the few Ugandan players that have featured for DR Congo side TP Mazembe, one of Africa's top sides. Others are Mike Mutyaba and Joseph Ochaya, who is currently there. Playing for a side like Mazembe, you would think that was a stepping stone to go higher but unfortunately, Ochan did not scale the heights. After Mazembe, he returned to URA. Ochan, one those prolific attacking midfielders Uganda has produced, did not maximumly utilise his potential despite featuring for other top sides like Simba in Tanzania and St George in Ethiopia. The 29-year-old is currently at Kyetume.
Frank Kalanda is remembered for guiding Uganda to the 2014 Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) finals in South Africa. He scored a brace in the last round of the qualifiers when Uganda defeated the Taifa Stars of Tanzania 3-1 at Mandela National Stadium, Namboole to make it 4-1 on aggregate. Unfortunately, despite having a good run during the qualifiers, Kalanda didn't make the cut for the team that played in South Africa. That was the second time the Cranes were qualifying for CHAN after appearing in the 2011 edition in Khartoum, Sudan. AS Kigali, Soana (now Tooro United) and URA are some of the clubs that Kalanda has played. He is now at Express.
Sserunkuma was born and grew up in the Lubaga division of Kampala district. He joined Friends of Football Academy in Uganda at the age of 10. Sserunkuma said he was inspired by Uganda Cranes legend, the late Majid Musisi, who is one of the country's best footballers of all time. He had his best career with Kenyan side Gor Mahia where he won different team titles and individual accolades. In 2013, Sserunkuma was pivotal in Gor Mahia's clinching of a first Kenyan Premier League title in 18 years. He claims to be 30 years old and now plies his trade at Vipers, where is struggling to get playing time.
The tried and tested central defender is a journeyman. He started his career at Mbarara-based Biharwe, before moving to Sports Club Victoria University, Sports Club Villa, URA, Vipers, Lweza and BUL in Jinja. He also had a professional stint at IFK Åmål in Sweden, before crossing to Mbarara City and then returning to Villa, where he currently plays. His physical approach to the game makes him one the toughest defenders to face. He has been vital in SC Villa's good run this season. He is in his late 30s.
Hamis ‘Diego' Kizza
He had his national team debut under former Cranes coach Bobby Williamson in May, 2011, when he was called up for the U-23 side to face Tanzania in an All Africa Games qualifier. He repaid the faith shown in him with three goals in two games against Tanzania and helped the team to the next round to face Kenya. After his impressive displays for the U-23 side, he was promoted to the senior side that would take on Guinea-Bissau in the crucial 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifier in June 2011. During his stay at Simba during the 2015-2016 season, Kizza scored 24 goals in 30 matches in all competitions (19 in the league and five in knockout Cup). He was also the second runner-up topscorer in the Vodacom Premier League that season. Kizza, who claims to be 29, is currently at Proline.
Mike ‘Sulaiman' Mutyaba
Mike Mutyaba joined Express straight from school, having previously been an academy player for the club. He can play as attacking midfield on the left. But he can also play effectively on the right or upfront. His had success at Sudan giants El-Merreikh, before he moved to TP Mazembe where he didn't have enough playing time. In 2017 he retired from football but made a U-turn the following year after KCCA coach Mike Mutebi believed that he still had a lot to offer. Mutyaba who claims to be 29, is currently at KCCA. He was pivotal when the Lugogo-based side won the Premier League last season and the CECAFA Kagame Cup.
Walangalira, who could be the oldest defender in the league (likely 40 years old) is mostly recognized for being named the best defender during the 2015-2016 season when he featured for JMC Hippos. Walangalira began his football career as a defender for Buwenda FC in Jinja's first division in 2002, where he partnered with Cranes defender Isaac Isinde. He moved to play for JMC Hippos, then Iganga Municipal Council, Police before he moved back to JMC in 2013. His fine displays have helped BUL, his current side, to put up a good show this season, especially in the first season.