In the wake of Milutin ‘Micho’Sredojevic’s recent sacking as Cranes coach, there was an overwhelming call from football enthusiasts for a much-needed overhaul at Fufa.
It has become painfully clear that the rot within Fufa is holding back The Cranes progress. While the removal of Micho is a step in the right direction, it does not address the malaise plaguing our football.
Micho’s tenure was marked by a tumultuous environment akin to a dealership, where Fufa loyalty and influence-peddling from player agents seemed to dictate player selection. Unfortunately, coaches always pay the price in such skewed systems. So, it is unfair to solely blame Micho for the team’s poor results in recent years.
Even a top-tier coach like Pep Guardiola would find it challenging to deliver positive outcomes within a system where favouritism and behind-the-scenes deals seem to overshadow talent and merit. The Cranes project has been entangled in a web of behind-the-scenes deals that should concern all football lovers; but that is for another time.
Anyway, as Fufa opens up applications to fill The Cranes coaching position, it is widely expected that the federation will pick a foreign replacement. Advocates for foreign coaches often argue that they bring professionalism and high-level experience to the table, but this assertion hasn’t always held true.
Many foreign coaches have used the Uganda Cranes coaching position as a stepping stone to enhance their CVs, only to depart at the first offer of a higher-paying job. Their focus is not to grow Ugandan football but to use the players to get the desired results. It is quite difficult to assess their legacy, but Micho was an exception to this because he followed up all the top players in the Uganda Premier League.
So, it’s time for Fufa to seriously consider giving a local coach the opportunity to lead The Cranes. There are several homegrown coaching talents with the requisite experience and passion to take our national team to new heights.
One name that stands out is Mike Mutebi, a coach known for his tough love and ability to push players to perform at their best. He is principled and not a pushover to be dictated to. His independent mindset and success at KCCA in unearthing young prospects make him the prime candidate.
Critics will claim his arrogance is his biggest undoing; but which top coach is not arrogant? I have no doubt he is much better than many of the foreign coaches to hold The Cranes position.
Moreover, there are other local coaching talents worthy of consideration. Sam Ssimbwa’s shrewd tactics have consistently yielded positive results, while former Cranes captain David Obua, who recently obtained a Uefa A diploma, could gain invaluable experience as an assistant coach. Meanwhile, Shafiq Bisaso has been making waves in organizing teams effectively.
A local coach for The Cranes is not just about promoting homegrown talent but also about instilling a sense of pride and unity among the players. Local coaches understand the Ugandan football landscape, the unique challenges it poses, and the immense potential that lies within our talented youth.
For instance, it is an open secret in the football fraternity that more than half of The Cranes squad are age cheats and this is one of the biggest impediments to the performance of the team. Foreign coaches may not be privy to this information, but there is hardly any seasoned local coach who doesn’t know this.
This business of undermining and despising local coaches has no justification, but I would be shocked if Moses Magogo and company handed a local the job. I also sense an inferiority complex at Fufa, where many believe that a monthly salary of $24,000 [about Shs 84 million], which Micho has been getting, would be too much for a local coach.
Such a self-defeating mentality cannot develop our home-grown coaches and has a trickle-down effect on the players’ ability to perform. Therefore, it is high time we give our local coaching talents the chance they deserve to lead The Cranes to glory.
Meanwhile, I am a strong critic of our coach-development programmes that lack benchmarking from the best practices in Europe and South America, but Fufa has always vigorously defended them. So, perhaps it is time for Fufa to put their assertions into practice by selecting a local coach.
The author is SC Villa first vice president in charge of mobilization