A few days ago, Cranes mainstay Hassan Mawanda Wasswa drew the curtain to his Uganda Cranes career.
With 75 caps to his name, Wasswa’s retirement didn’t come as a shock to the football fraternity due to his age, and also the fact that he had spent over a year without donning the national team colours.
So, to cap his 13 years in the national team, it is his versatility that stood out. Wasswa basically played all outfield positions for the national team and teammates fittingly baptized him Mr Confident because he was never afraid to get the ball. His composure with it was one of the rare attributes Wasswa had over peers.
His ability to adapt to all situations, home or away, is one of those things Wasswa will be remembered for. Even though he was relatively short, Wasswa often excelled while marking taller players and physical games were tailor-made for him.
Overall, Wasswa carried on a fundamental prowess of his father, Hassan Biruma, who was also a versatile player for KCC FC as well as the national team. Unlike Wasswa, Biruma was a prolific scorer because he mostly featured in upfield positions
Wasswa’s sporting genes further extend to his mother, Betty Nalongo Nanozi, who was also a star netballer with Bank of Uganda club. Meanwhile, Wasswa’s maternal uncles Wilson Nsobya, Godfrey Kisitu and Fred Sekasi also played football at top level.
There are few consistent players in the national team than Wasswa, whose regular appearances can only be equated to that of former stars like Eddie Semwanga, Henry Matte and Phillip Obwin, versatile players who were mainstays.
These players were available every time they were needed by the national team coach. For one, Wasswa always took to matches with the energy of Semwanga; full of running without showing signs of tiredness. Unlike Wasswa, Semwanga was a dead ball specialist and a goal scorer.
LONG WINDING CAREER
Since joining KCC and Uganda Cranes in 2006, Wasswa was always a crowd darling with his no-nonsense approach. And in 2012, he captained the Cranes side which won the Cecafa Cup title under the guidance of Bob Williamson.
The author is The Observer operations director.