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Madondo in line for Afcon

Joel Madondo being handed Player of the Month award by former Cranes captain Andy Mwesigwa

Joel Madondo being handed Player of the Month award by former Cranes captain Andy Mwesigwa

As the Uganda Premier League (UPL) takes a two-week break, Joel Madondo of Kirinya Jinja SSS FC, will shift focus on trying to impress Cranes coach Sebastien Desabre, for a place on Uganda Cranes team, to face Tanzania in the final 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, reports JOHN VIANNEY NSIMBE.

Striker Madondo cannot be happier than he is presently. After scoring just one goal in two UPL seasons; 2016/2017 and 2017/2018, he now has 12, making him the third league top scorer, just behind Bashir Mutanda (SC Villa) and Juma Balinya (Police FC) both on 13 goals.

As a result, Madondo was summoned to The Cranes squad preparing to face Tanzania on March 23 in Dar es Salaam. That has shifted his ambitions from the 15-goal target his club had set for him at the beginning of the season, to dreaming about the possibility of making Cranes squad to Egypt for the Afcon.

“I am really happy to have been called to The Cranes, because it was unexpected,” Madondo said.

Considering how tightly contested for the forward positions have been, with the likes of Emma Okwi, Patrick Kaddu, Edrisa Lubega and Derrick Nsibambi all in the equation, Madondo felt so much of an outsider. Yet, with his exertions this season, many will feel he deserves it. His goal against Villa last week in the league, that inspired Kirinya to a 2-1 win, was testament to how good Madondo is.

After picking the ball by the centre line, he raced half the field at lightening pace, beat one defender, before shooting it past goalkeeper Saidi Keni, into the roof of the net.

It was the kind of goal, that showcased Madondo’s individual brilliance. His former coach at Kirinya, Charles Ayiekoh told The Observer, that the 20 year-old is a real gem.

“Given time, he will prove it. You see, he has a good first touch, has pace to burn, can dribble and beat his man, he can shoot and finish easily,” Ayiekoh said.

Indeed, it is difficult to point out a player in the league, that is as fast as Madondo, let alone a centre forward with fine attributes as he has. Not only is he comfortable with the ball, but his ability to score goals from distance, and through dead balls, is one to marvel at.

Earlier in the season, he scored a scorcher of a free-kick against Tooro United from thirty yards. It was a collector’s item. The kind of poster goal, that can be used in a promotion. It will easily be the best goal this season. While the Afcon may be too soon for Madondo considering his limited experience in Cranes colours, but the fact, that he has been Kirinya’s talisman, is remarkable in itself. That already is a mark of his maturity. And if one is good enough, they are old enough.

That in itself inspires good decision-making. It is reported that Vipers SC wanted to sign him in January, but he resisted their overtures. He did not want to disrupt his growth. In 2015, Madondo was at St Mary’s Kitende, but left for Lisa Academy, because of limited playing time.

From there, Jinja SSS acquired Madondo, and he inspired them to the 2017 Copa Coca-Cola Championship in Masaka. In addition, Madondo was the first player to win the Pilsner UPL player of the month award this season, when he was voted the best of October.

In fact, he also won a similar award from the Real Stars Sports Awards company, handed to him by former Cranes captain Andy Mwesigwa. In total, he bagged Shs 1.5 million from those awards. While these awards made him richer, the four goals in four games set him up nicely for the rest of the season especially his confidence.

jovi@observer.ug

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