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Part II: Rise and fall of Cranes coaches

In this second and last part, HASSAN BADRU ZZIWA analyses the tenures of Uganda Cranes coaches who came in as messiahs only to leave the job like traitors;
Polly Ouma, 1989-95

After sacking Robert Kiberu, FUFA picked former Cranes star and skipper Polly Ouma to handle the team. In October 1989, he led The Cranes to the Kuwait Invitational Peace and Friendship Games in which Uganda lost to Iraq in the final. This was after an impressive show against Lebanon, Kuwait and Iran.
Ouma’s next task weeks later was to lead the team in the CECAFA Cup in Kenya. The Cranes did wonders and recaptured the title, which had eluded Uganda for 12 years.
The Cranes won the title again in 1990 but failed to take it for keeps in Kampala when they hosted the tournament. To make matters worse, they also missed out on qualification to the 1992 Nations Cup held in Senegal.  
That same year, Uganda recaptured the CECAFA trophy but still missed the 1994 Nations Cup following a goalless draw against Nigeria at Nakivubo.
Ouma’s team was in contention for a slot at the 1996 Nations Cup before Egypt walloped the team 6-0 in the final qualifying match. Ouma sensed danger and resigned.

Timothy Ayieko, 1995-96
He was Ouma’s assistant from 1989, so when his boss quit, he was given the task to lead The Cranes to the 1995 CECAFA Cup in Kampala. However, the team failed to qualify from the group. Uganda’s second-string side The Kobs reached the final and lost to Zanzibar. Ayieko resigned on June 5, 1996. Currently Ayieko is the sports officer of Jinja based Kakira Sugar Corporation.

Asuman Lubowa, 1996-99
After pushing The Kobs to the 1995 CECAFA Cup final, Lubowa was appointed Cranes coach. His assignment was to prepare the team for the World Cup engagement against Angola. But Uganda was beaten home and away to bow out.
The situation soured when The Cranes got eliminated in the preliminary round of the 1998 Nations Cup qualifier at the hands of Ethiopia.
Cranes made up for their early exit by clinching the CECAFA Cup in Sudan in 1996.
Lubowa’s next hurdle was to oversee Uganda’s qualification for the Nations Cup in 2000. However, the team finished at the bottom of the table and following Tunisia’s 6-0 drubbing, Lubowa threw in the towel in April 1999.

Paul Hasule I, 1999
FUFA immediately elevated Lubowa’s assistant Paul Hasule to see out the campaign. And he started off well with a 1-0 victory over Liberia in a match best remembered for the late show of Liberian super star George Weah.
However, The Cranes got ejected from the World Cup qualifiers by Guinea. So when FUFA picked his assistant Paul Ssali to guide the team to the CECAFA Cup in Rwanda, it was evident that his job was on line. Finally FUFA replaced Hasule in December 1999.

Harrison Okagbue, 1999-2001
National Council of Sports, on behalf of FUFA, recruited Harrison Okagbue. The Nigerian tactician was asked to take Uganda to the 2002 Nations Cup in Mali. He first guided Uganda to the 2000 CECAFA Cup in Kampala and also won the Castle Cup in Kenya.
But Nations Cup qualification proved a level too high was Uganda was humiliated by Senegal and Togo in the group. That was enough to earn Okagbue the sack.

Hasule II, 2001-03
Hasule reclaimed the Cranes job and his mission was to see Uganda book the 2004 Nations Cup ticket. In September 2002, he got off to a dream start when Uganda beat African giants Ghana 1-0 in the opener.
In November 2002, his Cranes side could only finish fourth at the CECAFA Cup.
Upon resumption of the Nations Cup qualifiers in March 2003, Uganda held Rwanda to a goalless draw in Kigali. This was a good result by any stretch, not to Denis Obua and his FUFA executive. And even though Uganda was leading the table, FUFA deemed the result unacceptable and showed him the door. Unfortunately Hasule passed away on April 26, 2004.

Pedro Pasculli, 2003
On May 17, 2003 FUFA through Italian marketing firm, Euromarkint brought in former Argentina 1986 World Cup star Pablo Pedro Pasculli whose monthly salary was US$ 8,000. He immediately encountered a language barrier and Christine Ayaa was hired as his translator.
However, he failed to impress at his first assignment as Rwanda piped Cranes 1-0 at Namboole on June 7. Pasculli was not amused; he sneaked out of the country on June 14, 2003 and returned to his base in Italy.

Leo Adraa, 2003-04
FUFA picked his assistant Leo Adraa to handle the team to the June 22, last group tie against Ghana in Kumasi. The Cranes drew 1-1 bow out of the 2004 campaign. Adraa continued with the team for the 2006 Nations Cup and World Cup qualifier games. Cranes eliminated Mauritius on its way to the group stages. However, in December 2003, Adraa didn’t travel for the CECAFA Cup in Sudan, as Charles Namakoola led the U-23 dominated team to victory.

Mike Mutebi, 2004
In 2004, FUFA picked youthful Mike Mutebi to guide the team through the Africa Cup/World Cup double header whose members were; Ghana, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde and DR Congo. The Cranes won the first game against DR Congo in Namboole. But FUFA politics took the centre stage as the majority of professional players skipped some games. Cranes went on to lose to Cape Verde, Burkina Faso and South Africa, though pulled a draw against Ghana at home. Mutebi was sacked.

Muhammed Abbas, 2004-06
FUFA recruited Egyptian tactician Mohamood Abbasi who started with the home tie against South Africa in October together with Mutebi. But after that match he officially took control of the team. But the Cranes lost the away tie in South Africa and Cranes suffered a 4-0 defeat by DR Congo in Kinshasa to bow out. Cranes also failed to impress in CECAFA tournament—a thing which prompted the newly elected Lawrence Mulindwa FUFA to sack him in 2006.

Csaba Laszlo, 2006-08

In 2006, FUFA recruited Serbia tactician Csaba Laszlo to take Uganda for the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations. Uganda was pooled alongside; Niger, Lesotho and Nigeria. The Serb first helped Cranes reach the semi-final of CECAFA tournament in Ethiopia. Then Cranes went on to win all her home matches and pulled two rare points away against Niger and Lesotho but narrowly missed the Nations slot.
After the aborted campaign, Csaba was given another task of guiding the Cranes to 2010 double header (Africa Cup/World Cup) qualifier. Uganda was in a group, which had Angola, Benin and Niger. Cranes did not lose at home and pulled a draw in Angola. But Csaba resigned in the middle of the campaign in 2008 and opted for Scotland’s side Hearts FC.

Bobby Williamson, 2008-Present
Csaba seconded Bob Williamson as his replacement. The Scot continued with the campaign but lost his first assignment 3-1 at the hands of Niger but the team resurrected in the last group match against Benin. The 2-1 victory at Namboole turned useless following Angola’s win over Niger in Luanda. Williamson is still the current Cranes coach.


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