Famous Ugandan football betrayals

They say there isn’t much loyalty in the beautiful game, and with so many high-profile players choosing fatter salaries over fidelity, it’s hard to disagree.

Here are five players who have betrayed the fans of at heights of their careers in the Ugandan league.

Jimmy Kirunda (RIP) – KCCA FC to SC VILLA (1950-2020)

Kirunda was a Ugandan international football player and international football manager for the Uganda national football team.

He made his name playing for KCCA FC between 1969-1979, winning the first league championships for the club. He further went on to led the city lads to the CECAFA Club Championship in 1978. 

Kirunda participated in five Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaigns and captained Uganda in three of the final tournaments. He briefly featured for Abu Dhabi Sports Club in the United Arab Emirates and then made the unforgivable sin of joining sports club Villa.

The club faithful never forgave him and thus Philip Omondi over taking him in the perking order as the biggest club legend.

There was a quite an uneasy atmosphere whenever he came to Lugogo and took his seat at the back of the stand whilst Mayanja and Ssimbwa enjoyed the limelight at the front.

For the achievements with the club, he should have taken the naming rights of the StarTimes Phillip Omondi Stadium, Lugogo but for the mortal sin of playing in ‘Blue’. He was quite successful with Villa but they also didn’t consider him their own.

Hassan Mubiru (SC VILLA to EXPRESS)

Hassan Mubiru (born 16 December 1978 in Lukuli, Makindye Division, Kampala district) played for Police FC, SC VILLA, Express FC and APR in Rwanda. Mubiru is one of the most talented footballers that Uganda has ever produced.

After leaving school in 1994, Mubiru decided to concentrate on football and his career started at Lukuli United, a first division side in his neighbourhood.

His talent caught the eye of many including then-Police FC coach Denis Obua (Former FUFA president) who lured the winger to Nakawa Police play-ground to join the Cops as they chased qualification to the country’s top tier league.

Mubiru later joined SC Villa to team up with the galaxy ensemble of Iddi Batambuze, Charles Kayemba, Edgar Watson and formed the most dreaded attacking duo in Uganda with Andrew ‘Fimbo’ Mukasa.

Despite failing to help Villa to the league title in the 1997 season, Mubiru looked a safe bet for a future star centre forward. In 1998, Mubiru helped SC Villa to a league and cup double.

The Villa Park side had last won a league title in 1994. He also led the club to the finals of the CECAFA club Championship that year for the first time since 1987.

Unfortunately, Villa lost the final game to Tanzanian giants Yanga Africans 4-3 on penalties after a barren draw in the 90 minutes in which Mubiru hit a post with a ferocious shot.

In 1999, Mubiru and Mukasa ‘Mu-Mu’ combination scored 70 league goals between them with Mukasa scoring 45 to break Kirunda’s record of 32 league goals while Mubiru netted 25 goals.

SC Villa eventually defended the league title but lost to Mbale Heroes in the semi-finals of the Uganda Cup something that ended Mubiru’s dream for a consecutive double.

At the end of the season, Express chairman then Godfrey Kirumira courted Mubiru and eventually lured him to Wankulukuku in a transfer that shocked many Villa fans.

It is reported that business mogul Kirumira had to part with over UGX 10 million for the services of the forward making him the most expensive player in the league at the time.

He was famously nicknamed Figo by the Red Army at Wankulukuku, in reference to the Portuguese star who had crossed to rivals Real Madrid from Barcelona in what was the most expensive soccer transfer in world football at the time.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez had engineered the move thus Kirumira getting the alias “Perez”. Like the Barca fans hated Figo forever, most Villa fans even up to today have never forgiven Mubiru.

A Villa fan “Katanyonta” famously remarked “Even God almighty would find that unforgivable”

Godfrey Kateregga (RIP): KCCA FC to SC VILLA (1960-1999)

Godfrey Kateregga was a football striker who played for Uganda national football team between 1979-1988. He came to prominence with Tobacco FC based in Jinja. He Joined KCCA FC in 1978 as a fast-paced left winger with a venomous shot.

He quickly established himself as a mainstay in the KCCA team to nostalgically be known as ‘superstar’ by the Lugogo faithful.

His style of play and his fashion sense caught the eye of everyone. I personally volunteered to carry his bags after training and clean his soccer boots in the drainage at Lugogo as a kid.

And of course, his generosity was overwhelming, because I earned money for break at school weekly.

At the height of the SC Villa and Kawooya revolution in 1985, Kateregga jumped ship and joined the Nsambya based club.

I remember walking from school (Nakasero) to do my usual chores and found gloom and doom in Lugogo. Fans were in small groups and quietly whispering to each other like tragedy had befallen the club. Engineer Ibaale broke the news to me that my friend had gone to Villa!

KCCA FC had already had a bone to grind with Villa and this was breaking point. From that point in time, KCCA even suggested to drop the blue away kit and even considered red which was more bearable.

I personally consider Kateregga the best player I have seen in action and the reason Villa became my ‘Enemy Number One’.

Kateregga was persona non grata at Lugogo and if it were possible the club would have deleted his record of ever being at the club.

Kateregga later again broke the divide crossing over from Villa to Express FC. He won four Ugandan Premier League titles (two each with KCCA and Villa) and won the Ugandan Cup five times (four with KCCA and one with Villa).

Shaban Muhammad (ONDUPARAKA to KCCA FC)

Muhammad Shaban (born 11 January 1998) currently plays for Vipers, as a striker. Controversial is possibly his second name and supremely talented is the other.

Born in Arua, Shaban signed a contract with Vipers in 2015, but it was rendered null and void because of being a minor and he signed for Onduparaka instead.

This didn’t go down well with the Vipers FC as they had already offered him a scholarship at the partner school St. Mary’s SS, Kitende.

He went back to his home town club Onduparaka to lead them to the Uganda Premier League and the Uganda cup final which was coincidentally against Vipers.

In the UPL, Onduparaka had a good first season and Shaban was named the Uganda footballer of the year 2016. Arua town was in celebration mood as they welcomed their own as he drove into town with his new car – the prize for the achievement.

The fanfare didn’t last long as the Onduparaka talisman was trying to push a move away from Arua to KCCA FC in Kampala. The Greenlight Stadium faithful could not hear of that and Shaban had to go under the radar.

There was a standoff between KCCA FC and Onduparaka as the later was unwilling to sell their star player. The player had gone AWOL in Arua forcing the football federation to intervene in the matter.

Eventually KCCA FC got their man but almost lost him to Vipers who were lurking from the outside as Shaban was in transition from Onduparaka. 

Shaban was ordered to pay Onduparaka UGX 12 million and UGX 10 million in fines. It was said that the deal cost KCCA 100 Million thus making him possibly the most expensive Ugandan player of all time.

He signed a three-year contract with KCCA in October 2017, scoring on his debut a month later. Arua town has not come to terms with his departure and the township of Onduparaka is still angry to this day.

In August 2018 he was linked with transfer to South African club Orlando Pirates and Moroccan club Raja Casablanca. He signed for Raja Casablanca for the 2018-19 season, making 5 league appearances, before returning to Vipers in August 2019.

He made his international debut in 2016 and was named in the squad for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.

Adam Semugabi: KCCA FC to SC Villa

Adam Semugabi started off his career with Santos Football Club in Mulago and later Joined Pepsi Football Club.

He joined KCCA FC in 1985 as a teenager to replace Godfrey Kateregga who had just joined SC Villa. Coach Moses Nsereko had followed him in the lower leagues with Pepsi FC and was impressed with his left foot. 

He joined KCCA to play at left wing but ended up at left back after an injury to club captain Baker Masiko. He was so good at that position which forced Masiko to revert to left wing on his return to the club.

Semugabi was a solid defender, pacey going forward and had a thunderous left foot shot. He also took penalties with ease until the penultimate one. As he was gaining steam and developing into the best left back in the country the Villa scourge swiped KCCA FC again.

This was surely the breaking point in the relationship between the two sets of fans.

Semugabi shocked the club faithful by crossing to Villa Park. The KCCA fans led by Sande Manara convened a meeting and declared war on Villa but this did not stop Villa from signing him.

In the same year Villa beat KCCA FC 3-1 at Nakivubo and Semugabi was having a brilliant day on the left flank. He was being abused with all kinds of obscenities and at one moment pelted with bottle tops.

Semugabi went on to represent the Cranes and was famous for missing the penalty that would have sent Uganda to the AFCON signaling the end of Semugabi’s career at an early age.

Coupled with the departure from KCCA and the Cranes 1993 debacle fans at Lugogo never forgave Semugabi and until this day he lives in the football shadows.

These rivalries over the transfer of the players were very bitter that the death of Moses Nsereko a KCCA legend in 1991 was attributed to the friction between KCCA FC and Villa.

The author is a CAF B licensed coach he also holds a Bachelor’s of Commerce in Accounting and Finance degree and a Master of Arts in Public Administration.

YouTube: Asaph Mwebaze Jr, Facebook: Asaph Mwebaze Jr

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