With his sudden death happening on Tuesday last week, it’s inevitable to feel nostalgic about the glory days of this once great left winger. He played for Coffee but spent most of his career with Police FC and also had a short spell with Maroons FC, Luo Union FC of Kenya and SC Villa.
Although he rarely laboured for the team when he had no ball, he possessed probably the hottest shot in Uganda football. He was a fine dribbler and scorer of great goals. He was the league top scorer in 1977 and played for Uganda Cranes for 14 years. He served as FUFA boss from 1998-2005 and also as CECAFA Chief from 2004-2008. In all, Obua ruled the position in the 70s.
2. GODFREY KATEREGGA (RIP)
As Obua’s career came to a grinding halt, a new replica emerged in the form of Kateregga. He would go on to dominate the position for the best part of the 80s. Known as Super Star, he was one of the most stylish players ever to play for The Cranes and KCC FC.
A controversial player he was, Kateregga was suspended for misconduct by KCC and FUFA on several occasions but due to public demand he bounced back before completing his ban.
He could create goals out of nothing and he made difficult situations look easy on the pitch and when his team run out of the ideas, he was the only option to pass the ball to because of his unbelievable imagination. He defected from KCC to SC Villa in 1985 and then moved to Express in 1988 before leaving for Germany in 1990. He passed away in 1999.
3. JOHN BAPTIST SEMANOBE
He was a controversial and stubborn FUFA President between 1989 and 1993 and twice saw his executive dissolved by government for mismanagement of football. But he was a fine left winger for Nsambya FC and the Uganda Cranes.
Despite being a slow player, he could play in all positions on the left side of the pitch. His great asset was ball control, dribbling and passing. He was an expert at free-kicks, a firm believer in exposure of natural talent.
4. BARNABAS MWESIGA
While Nsambya was well-known as a team of physical players, Mwesiga stood out as the only player who could take on opponents and beat them at will. He was a fast left winger who dribbled past opponents with ease. He also had power in his play and averaged 15 goals per season.
He joined Nsambya from Kyambogo National Teachers College in 1969 where he stayed up to 1978. His combination on the striking line with Leo Adraa, Mukanga, and Raphael Bwire was enough to throw panic in the opponent’s defence.
He left Nsambya and moved to Mbarara in 1979 and later on Kilembe before returning to Mbarara where he retired in 1983. He was a member of the Cranes side which reached the final of Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana in 1978.
5. FRED MUKASA
The dazzling left winger was nicknamed “Speed merchant”. He played for Uganda Cranes from 1981-1984. His fan-favourite tag at Express FC was a result of being an efficient goal-scorer.
He used to dislike rough and tight marking defenders and was mostly put in cold storage by such full backs. He left Express FC in 1988 and joined Coffee FC at Shs 1m as sign-on-fee a record by then. But he returned to Express in 1990 and finally retired in 1992.
In fact, Mukasa is widely credited for supplying most of the assists to Issa Sekatawa en route to his topping of the goal scoring charts in 1982 and 1983. And despite fighting for the same position with Godfrey Kateregga on the national team, the two were regularly fielded with one in number 10 position. They would switch positions during the match depending on team strategy.
6. FRED ISABIRYE
No sooner had he arrived onto the scene than he made the Uganda Cranes squad that was heading to the 1978 Africa Cup of Nations. That alone speaks volumes of his quality because he was still inexperienced.
His age, speed and power plus great understanding with his Simba FC team-mates: Polly Ouma and Godfrey Kisitu, might have influenced Cranes coach Peter Okee to pick him ahead of John Ntensibe for the Ghana bound squad. He was the first choice left winger in Ghana. He passed away while fighting in the 1979 war against UNLA at Budo. Football and guns surely don’t mix.
7. DAVID OBUA
The lanky left winger emulated many things from his late dad, Denis, save for the hard shots. He is a talented player who can play in most positions on the left side; he is a scorer of decisive goals like the 2004 goal which he scored in Mauritius to give Cranes a place in the group stages of Africa Cup of Nations/ World Cup qualifier plus the 2007 hat-trick he scored against Niger in a 2008 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier. He is Uganda Cranes free kick expert and currently plays for Scotland Premier League club, Hearts.
8. EDIRISA NYOMBI
Edirisa Nyombi was the dominant left winger of the post Independence era after dislodging John Bugoba. That was the case until the emergence of a youthful John Semanobe in 1965.
A diminutive player, Nyombi commanded in the Buganda regional team and those who saw him in his heydays describe Nyombi as a pacy and skilled player.
His maiden appearance was in a 1963 friendly against Kenya on the latter’s Independence Day in Nairobi. From then on he became regular for The Cranes. However, his football career was cut short in 1966 when he left for the Netherlands to pursue a sports and administration course. He returned and handled UEB, National youth team, Uganda Airlines and later on SC Villa.
9. JOHN NTENSIBE
A two-footed player he was, Ntensibe scored goals from the tightest of angles one would think of. All the goals he scored in his career were hard shots and decisive.
He played for Express FC during the hey days of the club. He moved to UCB when Express was banned in 1977 but later joined Nsambya, Nakivubo Boys, Masaka Union and finally Coffee. He was Uganda Cranes squad’s man on many occasions.
10. SUNDAY MOKILI (RIP)
A fast and busting left winger who at times played as a central striker. He was a very powerful player with a hard shot. He joined Cranes in 1983; the same year he moved to SC Villa from Jinja based Tobacco FC.
He is remembered for the third goal he scored against Cameroon in 1987 during the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier. He played for Spear Motors before calling it a day in 1992.
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