The name Saddam is synonymous with wars and killings if you got wind of the former Iraq President. But Ibrahim Juma Saddam is doing all in his power to change perceptions towards the Saddam name.
Last Friday, the stage was finely set for the opening game of the Super League second round. The battle between Express’s Noah Semakula and Bunamwaya’s Saddam, two of some of the league’s most outstanding players thus far was bound to be juicy.
Semakula’s contribution wasn’t significantly noticeable but the fact that he was part of an Express team that had taken a 3-0 halftime lead, made him have the first laugh.
Not that Saddam was having a bad game but finding a silver lining on this cloud was simply going to be very hard had the score-line remained unchanged. Like in the first half, Saddam returned for the second half with a good display.
The difference this time was that the rest of his team-mates were in sync with him- on fire. He orchestrated the mission to take the ball to Express. Given the liberty to roam by his coach Edward Golola during the halftime team talk, his fine use of the ball was key in finding spaces behind Express’s defence.
Saddam scored the second of three goals Bunamwaya netted in the second-half to draw level at 3-3. “I let the Express defenders run in and they left me unmarked near the edge of the box and when the ball was cut back, I picked my spot and sliced it in,” Saddam said of his goal.
This brought Saddam’s goal tally to six, one behind Semakula. Saddam was part of the 2003 KKL team that won trophies in Europe like the Gothia Cup. In 13 games then, he scored 25 goals. His humble demeanour looks set to stand him in good stead.
Bunamwaya’s assistant coach, Richard Wasswa opines that Saddam is a talented footballer who is untroubled by the big stage.
Undoubtedly, Tony Odur’s double strike against his former team can’t be overlooked but Ayub Kisalita, Bunamwaya’s defender said of Saddam: “He plays with a lot of maturity.
One thing he has added to the team is his ability to unlock defences with his sublime passes. Then he gets into scoring positions and takes his chances so expertly.”
EXPRESS’S BOGEY SIDE
Bunamwaya FC has made a habit of beating Express. In the first round, it was Saddam’s pass that found Odur unmarked for a 1-0 win. And last season the first round clash between the two aborted with Bunamwaya leading 1-0. As such, there’s bad blood between the two teams.
But Semakula wasn’t about to be drawn in that but give credit where it’s due. “I didn’t play well because of a nagging ankle injury but I think Saddam played really well. And of course the rest of Bunamwaya.”
Saddam added: “I and Semakula are good friends since we met in The Cranes camp in November. But I told him that they survived our onslaught and we laughed about it.”
Semakula has been in the Super League since 2006 right from Mukono/Kanoni and Victors FC. With Saddam enjoying his first outing, could he be the man to inspire a first league title? Golola said: “I think new players lift teams and if circumstances allow and Saddam plays in his favoured free-role position, count us in.”
Saddam, who has been deadly even at free-kicks and the club’s second top scorer said: “The fightback against Express was a sign of character and belief. It’s not only in me but the whole team and maybe this is our year.”