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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

TweetThis! Kandanda ya Bongo na usajili wachezaji kiUlaya Ulaya vile...

Huyo anayesema Tanzania ni masikini na wanahitaji msaada, tafadhali kazungumzage na vilabu vya spoti wakuelezeni mbinu za ukwasi.

Story from The Observer - Uganda by John Vianney Nsimbe (jovi@observer.ug)

Bengo, Okwi and Owino lead Ugandan exodus to Tanzania
Wednesday, 08 July 2009 16:14

Bengo signs for Shs 90m, Owino set to earn Shs 6.7m per month

Since the turn of the millennium, Ugandan footballers seeking greener pastures have been nomadic. First they flocked to Rwanda – then to Vietnam, Thailand and Bangladesh.

At one time Ethiopia caught their eye before shifting attention to South Africa. And now, Ugandan footballers are turning their attention to Tanzania. In startling moves, Tanzanian Premier League duopoly of Young Africans (Yanga) and Simba have raided the Ugandan Super League.

SC Villa midfielder Steven Bengo is on his way to Yanga after sealing a $40,000 (Shs 90m) deal while the pair of Villa striker Emma Okwi and URA defender Joseph Owino has been signed by Simba for $23,000 (Shs 51m) and $25,000 (Shs 55m) respectively. KCC striker Robert Sentongo is also primed to follow Bengo at Yanga.

Interestingly, Bengo’s sign-on fee is believed to be $10,000 (Shs 22m) - the same as Okwi’s. For Owino it was $20,000 (Shs 44m) plus a monthly wage of $3000 (Shs 6.7m). This is just $1,000 less of the deal Brian Umony signed with South African outfit SuperSport. This is in stark contrast to the Shs 200,000 each of the three players has been earning per month in Uganda.

Step down?
Despite the hefty amounts splashed, the moves have been criticized in some circles as a step down given the little strength of Tanzania as a footballing nation. In world rankings, the Tanzanian national team is placed 22 places below Uganda in 92nd position while both Tanzanian giants (Yanga and Simba) failed to progress past the preliminary stage of the CAF organised tournaments last season.

However, George Ssimwogerere, a former coach of Tanzanian side Kagera says, “When was the last time a Ugandan team excelled on the continent for us to dismiss Tanzania?” According to Ssimwogerere, Uganda and Tanzania are at par. “The Tanzanians are on a campaign to buy quality players on the continent in order to improve the competitiveness of their league.”

Ssimwogerere adds that the new challenge will inspire Ugandan players to work harder. He adds; “since Tanzanian teams are buying big, they will probably improve on the continent, attract scouts, which is less likely to happen for the poor Ugandan teams.”

That said, there is worry that the Super League has lost its star attractions, which, despite the dwindling crowds in stadiums, were responsible for attracting reasonable numbers.

Hence it’s no surprise that veteran scribe James Opoka is not happy. “Our league is poor and instead of keeping its best players, they are being exported – hence strengthening other leagues,” he says. “Anyway, I believe the league will produce new stars eventually.”

Granted, in the absence of Umony, Tommy Okello is already showing what KCC has been missing from the bench. He has so far netted twice in the ongoing CECAFA Club championships in Sudan.

The reverse In Ugandan football heydays, Super League teams – in particular Villa, Express and KCC – afforded to buy the region’s best.

For example, Morris Sunguti, Bernard Mwalala, Matthew Ottomax, John Luchuku and Vincent Tendwa from Kenya; Zazak Lingaya, Issa Bin Mungu, Toto Songe and Bana Zidane from DR Congo; Baramfitiye (Burundi); James Kayimba (Sierra Leone) and coaches: Geoff Hudson, Milutin Sredojevich, Kadil, James S’ianga, Eddie May and Fleming Jacobsen among others.

Bengo and company joins Cranes winger Dan Wagaluka (Azzam United) in Tanzania although hardly a single Ugandan footballer based Tanzania has ever been summoned to The Cranes. Alex Ndugga and Sam Mubiru (KCC) were non entities before they returned to the Super League. 

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