When Tony Odur, 23, scored a hat-trick in Uganda’s 4-0 win over Burundi to qualify to the next stage of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers 5-1 on aggregate on Saturday, he was making up for lost time.
The way he rose up highest in the first half to nod in the opening goal was a sign of determination to lead by example; the 50 yards run after a pass from midfielder Musa Mudde, scorer of the fourth goal, to slide it past the Burundi goalkeeper was an epitome of calm finishing; and then the dazzling run into the box by left-back Godfrey Walusimbi who delivered a pass to the far post to an unmarked Odur to slide it home, showed the poacher’s instincts in the Bunamwaya striker.
“After the 1-1 in Burundi where Henry Kisekka scored, I had to sit down and reflect on my game. I felt I could give more to the team and coming into the return leg, I was really determined to score and it’s good it happened although I didn’t expect it to be a hat-trick. I am really happy about this achievement,” said Odur.
However, Odur realizes that this must be a springboard for more consistent displays whenever he plays that rhyme with the level of talent he has got. “I’m working very hard because I know I would have been far in terms of progress. Seeing team-mates become professionals and I’m still here makes me realize that I have lost a lot of time.”
Odur broke onto the scene in 2003 as an exciting youngster at Express FC. Together with the small Mark Mwambo, who has since quit the game, in midfield, they were the new kids on the block that came off the bench at the CECAFA club Championships that year to turn the game round.
The two were the talking points at that time and very exciting and at the end of that season, they helped Express win the Kakungulu Cup. But more sticking is the wonderful late equalizer Odur scored in the 2004 Kakungulu Cup final against KCC. It was a hell of a stylish volley that you can only dream about.
However, Odur’s problems have been discipline. Faruuk Ssimbwa, formerly an administrator at Express between 2005 and 2007 told The Observer that Odur was as talented as he was insubordinate. “He was the kind of player who would at times want to hold the team at ransom if he wasn’t given what he wanted.”
It was one of the reasons he ended up quitting the team and joining Bunamwaya. He also had a professional trials stint in Denmark although he wasn’t successful. “I need to get a shot at such an opportunity again and that’s why I’m working hard.”
This season, Odur has had good performances for his Bunamwaya team. As club and league top-scorer with 12 goals, Odur has cut out a niche of being a changed and revitalized young man although remonstrations at referees still remain. “Many people have kept saying that I’m indisciplined but that’s not true. I’m just a very aggressive player.”
However, his team-mate Eddie Ssali told The Observer that Odur has now matured and moved past his childhood problems. Odur led a fight-back for Bunamwaya against Express recently when his team was trailing 3-0 at halftime. He scored a wonderful brace that sandwiched Ibrahim Juma Saddam’s goal to earn his team a point. “I want to help my team win the league and also help The Cranes qualify for the CHAN.”
Odur was part of the Friends of Football team that won the CECAFA under-12 championship in Eritrea in 1997. And as he enjoys a renaissance under Bobby Williamson who was all praise for him, Odur better mean it and not be another time-bomb because he has the talent and there may not be another moment to turn back the hands of time.