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The times and triumphs of Caesar Okhuti

By Shafic Kiyaga
Caesar Okhuti | Courtesy photo

Former Uganda Cranes striker Caesar Okhuti announced his retirement from football on Sunday, bringing an end to a 15-year playing career, after guiding Arua Hill SC to promotion to the Uganda Premier League.

The burly striker scored 71 career goals for both club and country, with a career high of 18 goals in 2008/09 season, that ranked him as the second top scorer in the Uganda Premier League at Vipers SC.

Arua Hill made the announcement that the striker hung his boots after they lifted the FUFA Big League title on Tuesday at the FUFA Technical Centre in Njeru.

According to a club statement, Okhuti will be moving straight into coaching after completing his lower-level coaching badges, and will start his coaching career with St Leo FC where he has worked as a part-time coach for the last 10 months.

“Caesar Okhuti has retired from football, ending a 15-year career that saw him win two Uganda Premier League titles and the FUFA Big League.”

“Arua Hill wishes Okhuti the best in his next challenge,” Arua Hill said in a statement.

The 31-year-old shot onto the scene with the now defunct Ediofe Hills SC in 2006, and went on to play for eight clubs including Vipers SC, KCCA FC, Express and Onduparaka before spending the final season of his career at home town club Arua Hill.

Okhuti captained the side to automatic promotion to the top flight after finishing top of the Rwenzori group, finishing the season as the club’s joint top scorer with five goals.

Okhuti’s through ball set up Rashid Kawaawa to score the only goal of the game against Tooro United, as Arua Hill were crowned the winners of the 2020/21 FUFA Big League season.

Considered the best striker from the West Nile region, Okhuti represented the national team in 2008 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup, 2011 Nile Basin Tournament, 2011 CHAN, 2015 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup, and 2016 CHAN.

He has also featured in various Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup qualifying campaigns.

He developed his football talent through secondary football as he featured for Mvara S.S and later St. Joseph College Ombachi in the early 2000s, but had to wait till 2006 to find a major breakthrough to play club football at the age of 16 with Ediofe Hills FC (defunct).

It was at Ediofe when he announced himself to the Ugandan football scene in 2006 after he helped the second division side to qualify for 2007 top flight competition.

Known for his speed, power, dominance in the air, sumptuous strikes, and ball retention, he was able to catch the eyes of the Uganda Cranes coach László Csaba, who gave him his first call-up to represent the Cranes in the 2007 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup in Tanzania.

He is remembered for his outstanding performance in the quarter finals of the tournament, where he scored the opener against Kenya and later scored the winner in a 4-2 penalty shootout.

His status as top goal scorer was sealed by signing a three-year deal in 2008 with Vipers SC. Okhuti would later on move to play for Vietnamese side, Vissai Ninh Binh (2011), before returning for his second stint at Vipers SC between 2012 to 2014.

He played for South Sudan side El Nasir in 2014/15 season and came back to Uganda where he featured for Onduparaka FC in 2015, then joined Express FC during the 2015/16 season.

His good performance with the Red Eagles earned him a move to KCCA FC in the second round of the 2015/2016 season.

In 2016/17 season, Onduparaka FC acquired his service on a long season loan deal before turning it permanent the following season.

Okhuti signed for Arua Hill in January 2020 and was named the team captain by then coach Hussein Mbalangu in October 2020 due to his experience and leadership skills, both on and off the pitch.

He made his Arua Hill debut in March 25, 2021 against Kataka FC at the Barifa Play ground in the FUFA Big League fixture, going on to score his first goal for the club.

He went on to score five goals in nine appearances in regular season. Okhuti who has worked on his beginners coaching badge kicked his last in the Big-League final which the Leopards won 1-0 against Tooro United on August 17, 2021.

Okhuti’s team achievements are also notable: two CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup titles in 2008 and 2015, two Uganda Premier League titles with Vipers SC in 2009/10 and KCCA FC in 2015/16.

Widely considered one of the greatest strikers West Nile has produced, he ended his playing career with West Nile side Arua Hill SC as the club’s joint top scorer with five goals in 2020/21 Big League season, consequently helping the Leopards clinch promotion to Uganda Premier League.

Additional reporting by Arua Hill SC via www.aruahillsc.ug

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