By Immanuel Ben Misagga
Last weekend, Molly Byekwaso guided the national Under-18 side to the Cecafa title in Kenya.
Byekwaso is one of the fastest-rising coaches in the country and has already proved he is an excellent handler of young talent. Three years ago, he led the national Under-20 side to the final of the continental championship, and with this latest feat, his star continues to soar.
I have no doubt he is one of the few elite coaches with astute game-reading skills and as Uganda prepares to host the 2027 Afcon, logic suggests that the current Under-18s will be the focus of The Cranes side that will participate in the tournament.
This is justified because the current crop of Cranes players seems to be lost in transition apart from a few youngsters.
So, the current Under-18s would be around 22 years in 2027, the perfect age to dare to be great. In Europe, national teams are evolving to include prospects as young as 15 years yet in Africa, we continue to rely on old horses and age cheats who take us nowhere.
So, this Under-18 triumph is testimony that Uganda has the talent and guidance to end the recent years of mediocrity.
In fact, it would not be far-fetched to suggest that Byekwaso be left in charge of overseeing the youngsters’ development for the next five years. Keeping this team together will greatly create that much-needed cohesion and camaraderie missing in Cranes teams that mix youngsters with aged players fit to be their fathers.
Unfortunately, I highly doubt Fufa will even retain Byekwaso for another year because, over the years, Fufa has proven that it doesn’t like a person who outshines its leadership.
They would rather pull one down than see him get all the back-page mentions.
You don’t have to look further than Peter Onen, the silent tactician who guided the national Under-17s to their first-ever qualification to the Under-17 Africa Cup of Nations in 2019.
With the tournament just a few weeks away, Fufa pulled the curtains on his rein and replaced him with Ghanaian Samuel Kwesi. Such a drastic miscalculation was punished with Uganda’s dismal performance and Kwesi disappeared in thin air afterwards.
Four years down the road, you would have expected those Onen players to be the stars in the Uganda Premier League but you can hardly trace their whereabouts.
So, it is for that reason that I pray Byekwaso to be given a free hand to mold the Under-18 youngsters into a formidable force for the years to come. He deserves to be kept under watch as a future Cranes tactician. His track record speaks for itself.
The Author is the former President of SC Villa.