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We need to scout for more players of Capradossi quality

Elvis Bwomono (L) & Elio Capradossi

Elvis Bwomono (L) & Elio Capradossi

The Cranes have nine months before resuming their 2026 World Cup qualification campaign away to Mozambique, a time long enough to rectify the glaring wrongs exhibited in the loss to Algeria in the last outing at Namboole.

I had warned at the onset that our players’ lack of size would be exposed by the towering Algerians and, sadly, it came to pass in the game of two halves.

For one, diminutive defender Isaac Muleme could only look on as he couldn’t compete in the air with the Algerians. At one point in the second half, he was easily shrugged off to the floor while trying to tackle an Algerian player. We were lucky not to concede more than two goals.

Size and height matter in today’s football and with the exception of a few once-in-a-generation players like Lionel Messi, teams are reembracing physical players. As a matter of fact, it is easier to teach a tall, physically well-built player how to tackle and head the ball than a short, naturally gifted player.

In fact, it has always been in The Cranes DNA to be physical. Opponents would think twice before going into a 50-50 tackle with Jimmy Kirunda or Paul Hasule. I really don’t know how we switched to lightweight players. That aside, the biggest positive from the match was the composed play of Elio Capradossi, a player who was unknown to many until the match against Botswana days earlier.

In both matches, the defender hardly put a foot wrong because he could match the physicality and speed of the opponents. In just two games, he has become the poster boy of the national team and I see him taking over the captain’s armband very soon.

It was a masterstroke for whoever convinced him to play for Uganda, and Fufa should make it part of its agenda to identify and persuade players with Ugandan roots to play for The Cranes. That’s how football has evolved. Look at what is trending at the Euros; the players who are pulling the strings for all the tournament favourites are of African ancestry.

England’s Jude Bellingham, Lamine Yamal of Spain, Germany’s Jamal Musiala and France’s Kylian Mbappe, among others, could have played for African teams, but the Europeans go to extreme lengths to convince parents of these top talents to play for their nations.

The flipside for African football associations is greed and patronage; in the case of Uganda, it has been found a number of times that a player’s main allegiance is not with the country, but with Fufa. Matters are not helped by the fact by the fact that a cabal of football agents greatly controls the national team call-ups.

As a result, we have missed out on several players of Capradossi quality, yet if Fufa maintained a person of Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic’s expertise and meticulousness, Uganda would unearth several gems plying their trade in Europe.

The author is SC Villa president emeritus

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