By Allan Damba
Former Uganda Cranes head coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic has come out to heap praise on his former goalkeeper and good friend Dennis Masinde Onyango claiming he was ‘Uganda’s lucky charm’.
Onyango earlier this week announced that he had retired from national duty after 16 years of consistent and diligent service.
The two worked together at the national team for four years between 2013 and 2017 triumphing in the coach’s final year, taking the country to the Gabon Africa Cup of Nations finals.
However, their working relationship stretches back to 2003 when the former Cranes captain was still a Sharing Nsambya player.
They then worked together at Villa FC in 2004 before his move to Ethiopia’s St. George in 2005.
Speaking exclusively to Football256, the 51-year-old Zambia national team head coach said the Mamelodi Sundowns shot stopper was Uganda’s piece of luck.
“He worked hard to win the Best Player in Africa award and he deserved it.”
“Helping his country to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations was big. All I can say is he was the lucky charm of the Uganda Cranes,” Micho said.
“He gave so much in the first qualification (in 2017), and in the second qualification (in 2019) where they made the quarterfinals,” he stressed.
The Serbian international also highlighted on their time together in South Africa but this time as fierce rivals. Micho was coach at Orlando Pirates as the custodian traded his game at Mamelodi Sundowns.
“We were together in South Africa, he was at Sundowns and I was at Orlando Pirates. He beat me once.”
“I beat him once and we drew the other matches for two years. It was incredible to compete against Dennis Onyango.”
“He has done an unbelievable job because he conceded the least amount of goals,” Micho noted.
Micho, however, said he was shocked by the news of Onyango’s retirement claiming he thought he would retire after the 2022 Qatar World cup qualification matches.
“I was shocked,” Micho stated before adding; “I would have told him to wait until at least the World Cup but he’s his own boss, he can make decisions for himself.”
Micho as well broke the news that Onyango was actually about to extend his club contract for three years in a bid to stress that the custodian still has a job to do in South Africa.
“It has been a pleasure and privilege to share with him this road, because a road that he has been through, I have been present from day one. All I can say is, ‘thank you’ isn’t enough,” he continued.
“If I can press a button of my unforgettable memories, it was purely worth to be alive and to pass through his life from Nsambya, Villa until now that he has become a football giant.”
“I wish him all the best and I hope he will continue supporting the Uganda Cranes,” concluded a visibly emotional Micho.
It should be noted that Micho has a strong relationship with a number of Ugandan players, especially those from Onyango’s generation.