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‘You have to be outstanding to survive at Maghreb clubs’ – former Cranes captain Massa

By Football256 Team
Former Uganda Cranes skipper Geoffrey Massa | Courtesy photo

By Edwin Kyle Kule

North Africa is one of, if not the most common transfer destination for Uganda players lately.

However, many have failed to crack the code and enjoy successful stays in the region despite showing huge and immense potential.

A lot has been poured on what one requires to ‘make it’ in the literally hot and dynamic North African football environment.

Former Uganda Cranes skipper Geoffrey Massa is the latest to offer his insight in the pandora box situation around failed transfers to the Maghreb region.

Massa played for Al Masry, El-Shams and Itesalat in Egypt between 2005 and 2011 via a short-term loan stay at South Africa’s Jomo Cosmos in 2008, after making his from Ugandan side Police FC.

The former Cranes striker states that from his experience while playing in the region, a player has to be outstanding, hardworking, patient, consistent and have the right character in order to survive the pressure cooker environment.

While speaking to 102.1 FUFA FM, the current coordinator of the Uganda Cranes team further noted that it is right for Ugandan players to pursue their dream of playing abroad, however, they should brace for the utterly competitive football environment abroad.

“I spent six years in Egypt, and at Al Masry I played with Ahmed Hassan who captained the national side in the 2006, 2008 and 2010 AFCON campaign where they emerged champions. So, that can tell the strength of the league by the time I joined from Police FC,” Massa told FUFA FM.

“You have to expect challenges as a professional footballer. When you go professional then it becomes incumbent for you to be consistent and outstanding in terms of appearances and great performances on the pitch.”

“For example, if Massa is taken to Al Masry, he ought to be outstanding and deliver a better performance than the local players,” he added.

“At least struggle and keep in the starting eleven or be a regular bench selection though while at the bench you can easily be forgotten by the coach.”

“Your character has to speak with high volume because it’s at this stage that a player should portray high discipline, maturity and a positive attitude so as a player you have to have hunger and yearn to be the best,” Massa stressed.

“In most cases foreigners get more money than local players. You may find three or four senior players who get more than a foreigner does. So, you have to prove the worth for the bills spent on you.”

“Because as a foreigner you will always have many questions to answer such as consistence and great performances to gain the trust of the coaches and fans but if that fails then that’s the start of the frustration.”

Currently, Cranes midfielders Taddeo Lwanga and Khalid Aucho are involved in a stand off with their respective clubs Tanta SC and Misr lel Makasa over unpaid arrears.

In Morocco striker Joel Madondo is also on the verge of an exit from Wydad Casablanca after he made public his claims for unpaid and unfulfilled contractual obligations.

The list of Ugandan players who have been unduly treated by clubs in North Africa keeps on growing, and Massa insists that the real danger lies with the intermediaries who chase personal goals and make the players agree to dubious deals.

“Personally, I can’t agree with those who say Arab countries don’t pay apart from Madondo’s deal that I hardly understood. The problem is that most of the agents have failed to be true and transparent with the boys while taking on these deals.”

“Because from my experience, when you reach those countries you will have to sign a contract and you receive half of the sign on fee, and then the other half is worked for through your performance in games.”

“Many have said that these boys are not prepared enough for the professional challenge but I will say it’s 50-50, because for those that have featured for the senior national team, that’s enough experience to favourably compete in foreign countries.”

“It’s all about players mastering the football ethics. Because football is the same here and, in those countries, but as a player you have to treasure yourself and know what to do at what time.” Massa concluded.

Massa led the Uganda Cranes to their first qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations in 2017 after 39 years. He is also Uganda’s all-time AFCON and World Cup qualifiers top scorer with 12 goals and before retirement, he had won 80 caps for the national team.

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