Uganda Cranes left-back Godfrey Walusimbi is confident of finding a new club soon, following his recent decision to leave South African side, Kaizer Chiefs, reports JOHN VIANNEY NSIMBE
With the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt drawing nigh, defender Godfrey Walusimbi’s position as Cranes left-back is uncertain. The tournament kicks off on June 21, yet Walusimbi belongs to no club.
National teams summon players for international duty, provided they are playing at their clubs. And if Walusimbi remains inactive, you can only imagine the kind of precarious position Cranes coach Sebastien Desabre would find himself.
Walusimbi said, “I have spoken to the coach about my situation, and he is aware that I and my management team, are doing everything in our power, to see that I return to active football at the soonest.”
Yet, Walusimbi is not oblivious of the competitive realities of football. He told The Observer, that he has no birth right being a Cranes player. Walusimbi stressed that if the coach does not find him to be at a good football level, he will have the right to pick someone else found to be better than him.
However, to rest any fears that the football fraternity may have about his inactivity, Walusimbi said, that he has already got a few offers on the table, one of which he believes will materialize soon.
The prospect of this, should be music to the ears for Desabre. But at the same, the Frenchman, like many in Fufa must be gutted about the situation Walusimbi finds himself in. You see, Walusimbi, has arguably been the most consistent Cranes player since making his debut in 2009.
And his performances, especially in making Cranes defensively sound, have been top, which is why his name is normally the first one on the lineup. For what it is worth, it is Walusimbi’s precise cross, that striker Patrick Kaddu met, to score against Cape Verde last November, and ensure that Cranes won 1-0, and qualified for 2019 Afcon.
So, his absence for any reason, would upset the institution, particularly at a big tournament like Afcon. Also, considering that Walusimbi’s current predicament would have been avoided, leaves a bad taste in the mouth, because it was self-made.
And it resulted from an unnecessary rage of anger from Walusimbi, which at the minimum would be referred to as childish and unserious, a team-mate of his, who preferred anonymity said. What happened was that, when Walusimbi was signed by Kaizer Chiefs back in August 2018 under the stewardship of Italian coach Giovanni Solinas, the Ugandan international walked straight into the first team.
His performances matched the faith the coach had in him. But in December, Solinas was sacked, following a string of bad results. The club was seventh on the log with 18 points from 14 games. In came German coach Ernst Middendorp assisted by former Bafana Bafana and Charlton Athletic forward Shaun Bartlett.
Middendorp’s arrival spelled the end of Walusimbi’s mainstay status in Kaizer Chiefs. On a number of occasions, he was substituted at half time or not named in the playing party altogether. A young South African player from the team’s reserves had taken Walusimbi’s position.
Inevitably, this is said to have hurt Walusimbi, although he went on doing his best in training. Subsequent events then ended up conspiring against Walusimbi even the more. Kaizer Chiefs lost their first choice goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune through injury, and they needed to replace him.
The goalkeeper Kaizer Chiefs could find, was a Nigerian. But their foreign player quota had been reached once they signed Walusimbi. The only way they would free up space, was by either releasing one import or loaning them out. Kaizer Chiefs chose the latter, and the candidate for that was Walusimbi.
But because that meant heading out to Chippa United on deadline day, January 31, Walusimbi chose to turn it down, even though he would still receive his wages like he was at Kaizer Chiefs. It is reported Walusimbi was paid over $10,000 a month. Walusimbi felt he had been caught unaware by that sudden decision made by Kaizer Chiefs to loan him out, which is why he opted for the cancellation of his contract. Sources inside Fufa, who preferred anonymity referred to Walusimbi’s decision to cancel his contract, as the most diabolical one by any professional footballer with direction.
There is deep concern about how Walusimbi could choose to take the opportunity of playing in one of the richest African leagues lightly. And considering, how many footballers in Africa would give anything to be in his position, Walusimbi has not only let himself down, but the football fraternity, that want more of its stars playing at the more lucrative levels compared to Uganda.
In many ways, Walusimbi’s story is not an isolated case as far as many of his contemporaries are concerned. For example, Steven Bengo’s contract at Tanzanian side Yanga FC was cancelled, as was the one of Brian Majwega at Azam FC, following streaks of reported indiscipline.
Cranes strikers Emmanuel Okwi and Yunus Sentamu also walked out of their contracts at Etoile du Sahel and CS Sfaxien unceremoniously, one year into three year deals. It is a worrying trend about Ugandan footballers, and whether they are ready for professional life.
Maybe Walusimbi should have phoned his close Cranes team-mate, Denis Onyango, before opting to quit Kaizer Chiefs. When Onyango first joined the Premier Soccer League back in 2006, he plied his trade at SuperSport United.
Yet, after three years, Onyango struggled. He ended up being loaned out to Bidvest Wits and Mpumalanga Black Aces. Even at those clubs, he was not a mainstay. Then Mamelodi Sundowns acquired him, as third choice goalkeeper behind Zambia’s Kennedy Mwene and South Africa’s Wayne Sandilands.
However, Onyango bade his time, and since 2015, he has been the undisputed number one at Sundowns. It is a situation, that has seen him become the only Ugandan to win the Caf Champions League. Coupled with that, is the awards of best player from Africa in 2016 and the best goalkeeper in Africa 2018.
With all said and done, Walusimbi has already moved on, although the same cannot be said of Kaizer Chiefs, who clearly still wanted him. In fact, they have not given him the letter showing termination of contract. Whoever wants Walusimbi’s services may have to match their valuation of the player.
Apparently, when Kaizer Chiefs signed Walusimbi from Kenyan side Gor Mahia, they paid $150,000 for him on a three year deal. So, if Walusimbi is to play football soon, his agents will have to find a club, that can compensate Kaizer Chiefs handsomely.
It is said that Walusimbi may end up in one of the Scandinavian Leagues since the transfer windows there are still open. Teams there are in pre-season, as their leagues begin in April after the winter has subsided.
That said, Walusimbi, 29, may not have to worry much about his Cranes place. Seeing how things have been done in the past, Desabre has kept unattached players in his squad like Khalid Aucho, Joseph Ochaya and Murushid Jjuuko. Desabre has put them on a personal training regime, to raise their fitness levels, and in the end, they have played for Cranes, even when they have had no club football.
- 2008 to 2010 - SC Villa
- 2010 to 2012 - Vipers SC
- 2013 - CS Don Bosco
- 2013 - SC Villa
- 2014 to 2018 - Gor Mahia
- 2018 - Kaizer Chiefs