ALL-STARS AFFAIR: We last saw him dribble a ball four years ago. And tomorrow David Obua makes a comeback four years after he was suspended from the national team. The golden boy will lead the Uganda All-Stars as they take on the Barcelona legends. He spoke to Innocent Ndawula.
How does it feel getting back on the pitch?
Of course, it feels nice. Football is a passion and I cannot also wait to see if this natural ability can be used again.
How prepared is your team?
We have only trained for three days, so I cannot say we are well grilled like the Barcelona guys. But I know everyone is focused and the guys want to do their best.
When did you last play at Namboole?
It was June 4, 2011 against Guinea Bissau. It was a 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match and the stadium was packed to the rafters.
We won 2-0 courtesy of Godfrey Walusimbi ‘Jajja Walu’ and Geoffrey Massa’s goals. That game brightened our chances of breaking the Afcon jinx only for Kenya to do us in on the final Match Day. I missed that last game due to cheap politics.
Did you ever miss playing at Namboole?
Yeah I did. Football has been part of my life and it will always be. It is what I breathe, eat and live.
What if the local football governing body, Fufa, wanted you back for one final gig with the Cranes? Would you don that No.13 jersey?
It is not about one final hurray for me. That is not how things are done. You know how I risked my club careers in South Africa and Scotland to play for Uganda. It is a public secret that I sacrificed a lot whenever I turned out for Uganda. I could lose count if I started recalling how many times I had to play on injections and pain killers. I was always literally high. There are a lot youngsters playing well now and we should look to groom for the future. This boy Farouk Miya is scoring for fun and the National U-17 side should be given extra attention. It is the real deal.
Do you regret anything about your career with the Uganda Cranes?
No. I did everything because I wanted. I did not do anything to please anyone. I will never be double-faced.
Who is the oldest player in the Uganda All-Star squad?
That is a battle between goalkeeper Sadiq Wassa and free-dribbler Ibrahim Buwembo. I heard Buwembo played in the Gossage Cup. He is a true legend that one.
What should fans expect?
I will give them something exciting. Something to talk about, or even live in their memories forever; I want to remind them who I am.
What is this All-Star/Barcelona Legends game all about?
It is about building a better future for Ugandan football. It will go a long way in helping professional links for the active youngsters. This is a starting point for many good things to come.
Give us a prediction for the match.
I do not predict boss. Gambling is not my thing. But in this case, I predict good football.
Is the playing surface suitable for these Barcelona Legends?
It is not even suitable for us. We have some really old and tired legs in our squad. But I guess we all have to get used to the surface. And we have to blame the Namboole management and the Sports ministry because they have no respect for our job (playing football). If they did, Namboole would not be hosting rallies, parties, weddings and all those funny co-curricular activities. It is a sign that sports and football is not appreciated in this country. Imagine if these Barcelona Legends came and played on a good surface, they would take back good storylines about the liveliness and care the game is given in Uganda.
But now we are left with the fact that they will not find it as smooth as they would have wanted because it is not managed well and given a grace period between matches for the grass to grow back. It is also a misfortune that it is the only stadium we have where we can host them.
The government should show more love to sports, it is the only thing that gives the country positive publicity on the international scene.
You have been very quiet. What are you up to lately?
I am not an impostor. I do not know how to pretend and assume things. I am taking it one step at a time. I am planning to travel somewhere and do my coaching badges. It is all about taking one step at a time. I do not want to be taking up coaching roles like some people here without qualifications.
Have you seen any youngsters following in your footsteps?
There is Miya and Kezironi Kizito of Vipers. Those boys are tireless workers on the field. They have to remain humble and keep their feet on the ground. The national U-17 side should also be given special attention right from their captain Andrew Okiring Isiagi. It is full of gems. The KCCA youthful squad has a couple of sweet left-footed players. Look out for Opolot, Okello. Talent is all over Uganda, but how do we groom them is the question.
Are you considering any role in football administration?
Like I said, no rush.
In your view, what is the current status of the game in Uganda?
If the Uganda Cranes’ recent achievements are anything to go by, we are on a high. At 68th, we have a good Fifa ranking. I congratulate the team. It has done well. They have to keep going. Success builds onto more success. We do not want to go for another 20 or 30 years without qualifying for something.
You gave the fans so much joy whenever you donned the Cranes jersey and scored some very important goals. Should they look out for more?
My name is David Obua. Others call me King David! Goliath (Barcelona) must fall come Saturday. I will do my best to score and I know I will. Namboole is our fortress. I have been lucky all my life and I thank God for the talent. And wait for the celebration after; maybe I will remove not only the shirt but the shorts as well.
Which one ranks as your best goal at club and international level?
I have two special goals. At club level, it was when I was at Kaizer Chiefs playing against Orlando Pirates. It was from a corner kick and the ball found me unmarked in the 18-yard area. One shot and boom in the back of the net. That must have been in December 2011.
In national colours, no goal will ever beat the golden goal I scored against Mauritius in Curepipe in November 2003. We beat them 3-0 at home and then they paid back with the same margin at their home turf. I looked at my teammates and dug out and saw that everybody wanted to cry. I told myself, let me take this matter into my own hands.
And with penalties looming, I unleashed a 30-yard scorcher to ensure Uganda progressed to the group phase of the World Cup qualifiers. If we had not won, it meant that there would be no football for us for a year. That golden goal gave us a lot of joy, but broke many hearts in Mauritius, I bet they are still crying.
How does it feel that you are captain of the Saturday team?
I am lucky, so lucky indeed. For me, Ibrahim Sekagya is my all-time best captain and he would have led us on the day if he was available. But I am glad to take the mantle from him and represent diligently. Leading such a side that cuts across many generations is an honour. I am humbled.
Tell us about the Uganda All Star coach Mike Mutebi. We know he gave you a Cranes captaincy stint in the early 2000s and has done the same now.
Mike taught me the ABC of football. It is absurd many people do not know how much football this man knows. He is one of the best in the business. It is also absurd that he has been under-looked for some key roles. I believe Mutebi should either be the technical director at Fufa or worse, the assistant national team coach. He has not reaped as much as he deserves. Watch out for his tactics alongside Sam Ssimbwa on Saturday.
Tell us about Uganda Cranes and KCCA left back Joseph Ochaya, many people say he is your lookalike and also plays with a similar style to yours during your heyday?
That boy has a sweet left-foot. He is a good friend and he is always with me whenever I am at KCCA. He belongs in the professional leagues. Many European clubs lack left-footed players. He plays with verve and skill. I tip him for the big time in Europe, if he continues to play more direct and purposeful football.
One word for coach Micho?
He has earned his stripes with Uganda and is knowledgeable. He has never coached me and the closest I have come to seeing him was when he was at our crossroad rivals Orlando Pirates. Fufa and government should continue supporting him.
Everyone who can, should come to Namboole tomorrow. There will be lots of entertainment, both on and off the field but most importantly, there will be so many new things to learn. It is going to be one big carnival. Miss the party at your own peril!
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Ticket-Selling points: KFC Restaurants and PayWay outlets.