Log in
Free: The Observer Mobile App - Exclusive Content and Services

Csaba: Good riddance

Even before former Cranes coach Csaba Laszlo settles into his new job as manager at Scottish side Hearts, Ugandans are split assessing his impact on Ugandan football.

At the moment, several questions are being asked like: was Csaba a worthy investment? Is Uganda really going to miss him? And most importantly, can The Cranes surge ahead seamlessly at this tricky phase?

Looking back, Csaba was not even the first choice for the job, (it was Tomislav Sivic) and searching for Csaba's positives is like squeezing blood out of the stone. Here's why:

1. No foundation
No coach in recent memory has arrived with such high expectations as Csaba. But unlike the two Cranes European coaches before him, Burkhard Pape and Westhorff Otto, Csaba left Uganda without a trace of any meaningful legacy. Uganda failed to qualify for the Nations Cup, he failed to build or advise on football structures and even failed to hold a single coaching clinic (what would he have taught anyway?). As the head coach, he also failed to oversee the creation of under-age teams to feed the senior side.

2. Failed to win an away match
This was another jinx Csaba came to break but instead his two-year reign extended the longest spell for Uganda without an away victory to seven years. A loss in Abeokuta to Nigeria was understandable but draws in Lesotho and Niger and the Benin humiliation were inexcusable.

3. Hot-headed vulgar
One would have expected the self-confessed chess player to handle a team with utmost delicateness; instead, it seems, Csaba would have carved out a great career in kick-boxing and perhaps would have been a serious contender for the World Vulgar Championships title (if it existed). By the time he left, he could have broken more tables, chairs, cups and tea flasks than the number of times he watched Super League matches. His fight with Ronald Muganga punctuated with F-lettered words still baffles many.

4. Shapeless Cranes
Grooming a long-term Cranes team was one of the main assignments of Csaba. On the contrary, he used the shortcut and went for today's win at the expense of tomorrow's success and heavily relied on a bunch of ageing professionals for results.

5. Bragging liar
Reading Csaba's Wikipedia biography as well as his comments about African football, leaves a stinging feeling in many Ugandans' hearts. As if claiming to have lowered Uganda's ranking from 167 to 97 wasn't bad enough, he lied to the world that Ugandans had dubbed him 'The Miracle Man.'
Truth is he found Uganda ranked 97 in the world and 23rd in Africa. By the time he left, Uganda was still 97th in the world whereas it had dipped to 26th in Africa. (fifa.com/worldfootball/ranking)

6. Super League enemy #1
It's shocking but party animals were more associated with Csaba than football enthusiasts. Csaba was more frequent at cocktails and music concerts than Super League matches where he was supposed to identify emerging talent. He didn't even mind when the technical committee summoned players for him. Little wonder he started Uganda's must-win match against Tanzania in May with seven natural defenders.

7. Nothing to show for
It's hard to imagine that Csaba reigned over one of Uganda's longest silverware drought periods. Two CECAFA campaigns ended in agony, with only a bronze at the 2007 CECAFA tournament to show for. Defeats in the semis to Sudan (2006) and Rwanda (2007) don't bode well for the Hungarian-German.
Much-maligned and poorly facilitated Mohammed Abbas (Csaba's predecessor) managed a runners-up silver in 2005 - the same year The Cranes, made up of mainly locally-based players, upset World Cup-bound Ecuador in an LG Four-nation tournament held in Egypt. With the feat The Cranes also won $32,000, to date Mulindwa's biggest achievement as FUFA president.

8. Csaba's buddies knew him better
I will borrow quotes from some of his closest associates;
Rogers Mulindwa: "We don't understand what this man is doing since he came," said the FUFA spokesman after Uganda had been ejected by Tanzania in the Africa Nations Championships.
Asumani Lubowa: "Don't blame us for selecting the team for him because he doesn't know the players," replied the FUFA Head of the technical committee to criticism over his committee's peddling in team affairs.
Lothar Matthaus: ""Are you joking with me? … I can't believe this has happened. He is an assistant manager and would be good in that role, but not as manager. I don't think he has the personality to be a No.1, but I also think he doesn't have the experience. There are many things he doesn't have for this kind of job. Time will tell if Hearts have made the wrong choice. I am very surprised," said the former Hungarian national team boss upon learning of Csaba's appointment at Hearts.

9. Uganda was always a stepping stone
Isn't it ironic that Csaba celebrated every big Cranes win with an application for a better paying job? First, he secretly applied for the vacant Cameroon job after beating Nigeria 2-1 in Kampala and then sent his CV South African sides Mamelodi Sundowns as well as Orlando Pirates after narrowly missing out on qualification. That he went for Hearts after beating Angola isn't surprising.

10. He said it!
His statements say it all;
"There is nothing worth watching in the Super League," he said when asked why he gave local matches rejection's leprous kiss.
"I'm not here to transform Ugandan football but to coach the team to success," he responded when pressed to hold coaching clinics.
"I hope Uganda qualifies but if we fail, it won't be my fault," he answered after beating Niger 3-1 in the last match of qualification for the 2008 Nations Cup.


Csaba’s Numbers

730 - The days he spent as Cranes coach
40 - Seconds he took to flee into the Namboole stadium locker room to avoid angry journalists after Uganda's lackluster 1-0 win over Niger
4 - Assistants he's worked with in his spell as Uganda coach
1- Pair of brown shoes he wore in every match
Shs 244m - Money FUFA spent to foot Csaba's net salary over two years.
Shs372m - The compensation Hearts is going to pay FUFA.
0 - Places in the FIFA rankings Uganda improved from the time Csaba took over.
26 - Number of games Csaba was in charge.
14 - Number of games he won.
5 - Games in which he got draws.
7 - Number of matches lost.

Comments are now closed for this entry