Jimmy Muguwa is one of Uganda’s most celebrated personalities in football both as a player and coach. Yet somehow he remains in the shadow of more glamorous players and his achievements underestimated. Currently jobless, he is now on the brink of disappearing from the football scene.
Jimmy Jacob Muguwa hails from Masindi and was born 56 years ago to John Mugenzomu and Edranicho Nansubuga. At just three years, he was taken to Mombasa, Kenya where he was raised by his grandfather.
While there, he got interested in football as a primary six pupil and started out as a ball boy for Hudson Bay FC, a village team. He later graduated to play for the side in 1969 but later moved to Spaki Heroes, a side owned by former Kenyan national team coach Mohammed Kheri.
In 1970, Muguwa joined Faisal FC of Mombasa and was given KShs 7,000 as sign on fee-but his goal was not to play for the team but to use the money to return to Uganda.
He managed to come back home in 1971 and settled with his uncle at the Kampala suburb of Mulago. It was at the Mulago Hospital playground that he teamed up with the likes of Jimmy Kirunda, Tom Lwanga, William Kityo, Emma Mugerwa and others.
A youthful Muguwa started out as an all-rounder and could play in all attacking positions and his rare skills attracted Lint FC, which signed him in 1971. After a successful stint at the club, Muguwa became a hot property and was on the verge of signing for Express FC before he chose to move to Second Division side Uganda Commercial Bank in 1973.
While there, he carved out a niche as an entertainer and scored several goals in a cheeky way, always preferring to use a backheel instead of a simple tap in.
However, UCB was still a lower division side in 1975 but that didn’t stop Muguwa from attracting the attention of Central Province coach Jabaeri Bidandi Ssali, who also doubled as Uganda Cranes manager and KCC FC coach.
Bidandi drafted him into the Provincial team and it took just a few weeks before Bidandi included him in the Cranes side for the 1975 CECAFA Cup held in Zambia. This was a rare feat for a player in the lower division.
UCB joins elite club
Things even got better when UCB gained promotion to the top tier in 1976 and the bankers finished a respectable seventh in their maiden season.
The turning point for the club came when UCB coach Ben ‘Big Ben’ Omoding recruited big names like Dan Lutalo, Martin Ochaga, Fred Musisi, Vincent Kissa, Mike Alere and Edward Baguma to supplement Muguwa’s excellent work.
In 1978, UCB ended the season fifth as Muguwa scored 24 goals to finish second behind record setting Jimmy Kirunda who had 32. UCB also reached the final of Uganda Cup but lost to Nsambya FC 0-1.
In 1979, it was Muguwa and UCB’s year. His combination with Sam Okiror as centre forwards, right and left wingers Fred Serwadda and Fred Musisi respectively was bad news for opponents.
Muguwa’s most memorable game was against KCC FC which badly needed to beat UCB to improve its chances of clinching the title with only a handful of games left.
Come the match day, UCB scored first through Jimmy Bbosa Senior, when he beat Jamil Kasirye but Davis Kamoga equalised for KCC on the stroke of half time. Kamoga then put KCC in front just after the re-start before Muguwa equalised with a clever curler which keeper Kasirye thought was going wide.
But with 15 minutes left, Kamoga completed his hat-trick for KCC to lead 3-2. But just as they celebrated, Fred Serwadda exchanged passes with Patrick Kigongo who made a cross for Muguwa to rise above KCC defenders and equalise with a powerful header. This result dented KCC chances but helped UCB to their first league title.
Muguwa in Cranes
Though Muguwa was a utility player, he found it hard to secure a first team place in The Cranes and his national team records are full of substitute appearances.
His best Cranes moment came in 1976 when he traveled to Ethiopia for the Africa Cup of Nations. He didn’t feature in the opening match against Ethiopia but started the second game against Egypt before he was substituted for Denis Obua.
In the last group game against Guinea, Muguwa scored Uganda’s consolation in the 85th minute in the 1-2 defeat.
Muguwa was also part of the Cranes side which reached the final of the 1978 Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana but remained a reserve player throughout. He played the CECAFA Cup in Malawi the same year and also the 1979 CECAFA Cup in Kenya and retired from The Cranes in 1982.
At club level, he ended his long career with the bankers in 1982 when, together with Patrick Kigongo, joined Express FC. He scored some vital goals for the Red Eagles and was made club skipper for the 1983-1984 season.
His best time for Express came in 1985 during the final of Uganda Cup against KCC. He headed in the third goal in 3-1 win which gave Express its first trophy in eight years. In 1986, he was appointed as assistant coach/player but when coach Robert Kiberu took over in 1987, Muguwa retired from football.
In 1987, Muguwa was part of the twelve Uganda coaches who took a one month coaching course in Germany. When he returned he spent a short stint with Express and later crossed to Rwanda to handle Mukungwa FC. He returned in 1991 and handled UCI.
He returned to Express when Kiberu died and acted as David Otti’s No.2. In 1995, Otti moved to Villa and Muguwa was named head coach. He guided the team to the 1995 league and Kakungulu Cup titles and also led Express to the semi-final of Africa Club Championships. As a result, he was named Uganda Cranes assistant coach.
He left Express when the club recruited Serbian Dragan Popadic in 1996 and handled a couple local sides including Police FC. Muguwa returned to Express in 2002 but shortly afterwards, he was involved in a car accident along the Kampala-Jinja highway.
This fatal accident partly disfigured him and currently walks with a limp. He was recently sacked from Express where he was acting as Otti’s No.2. As such, Muguwa is currently jobless and stays at a family home on Musajj’alumbwa Road near the Kampala suburb of Kisenyi.
The author is Director, Marketing & Promotions, Observer Media