In 1998 Uganda hosted Algeria in the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and the absence of Majid Musisi was a headache for everyone associated with the national football team, the Cranes.
Musisi, who was then plying his trade with Turkish side Canakkale Dardanelspor, was Cranes’ star player but failed to make it for the game against Algeria.
The then head coach Asumani Lubowa would resort to youngster Hassan Mubiru who was brilliant all season with SC Villa, but had never played for the Cranes.
“Replacing such a player was a huge task for me and also depending on the kind of opponents we had to play,” Mubiru told Football256.
“I felt nervous at first, but given my performance with Villa that season and also the desire to play for the national team, my confidence grew.”
“The coach and my teammates believed in me and that gave me a lot of confidence,” he added.
Mubiru’s debut in the national team colors turned out to be impactful when he bagged a brace for the Cranes in a 2-1 victory while the visitors scored through Bilal Dziri.
In the game played at Nakivubo Stadium on October 2, 1998, the Cranes broke the jinx by edging the Desert Foxes 2-1, a side they had not beaten since 1983.
“I was very sure that Musisi was going to come and it being my first time, I thought I was going to start from the bench, any way.”
“But when they gave me the responsibility, I had to gather myself well to embrace the opportunity.”
“What happened that day is never forgettable and all I can say is that it was worth a debut,” Mubiru noted.
Mubiru is now a retired player and he is part of the technical team at StarTimes Uganda Premier League side Express FC which is one of his former clubs.
As the Uganda Cranes prepare for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Algeria in Algiers on Saturday, Mubiru has urged the players to have belief and confidence.
“Just like in the past, Algeria is one of the strongest teams in Africa, they have a good coach and very many talented players who play from different top clubs around the World.”
“But also, Uganda has always had the talents and I can see a lot of potential in the current players, it is just a matter of them knowing what they want, the belief and confidence,” Mubiru stated.
After the game against Algeria, the Cranes will host Niger on Wednesday, June 8.
Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic’s charges who are in Group F alongside, Algeria, Niger, and Tanzania will be looking forward to returning to the AFCON having missed out on the 2021 edition in Cameroon.