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How AFCON U-20 Paved Way for Uganda’s Juniors

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The Hippo's striker, Derrick Kakooza emerged as the top scorer of the tournament with five goals while defender Aziz Kayondo featured in the best eleven for the impeccable performance throughout the tournament.
Uganda Hippos team.

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It is almost a year now since Uganda put up a remarkable performance in the Under 20 African Cup of Nations in Mauritania last year. For the first time, the Uganda Hippos played up to the finals of the tournament.  Unfortunately, Uganda lost to Ghana 2-0 in the finals of the continental showpiece.

The Hippo's striker, Derrick Kakooza emerged as the top scorer of the tournament with five goals while defender Aziz Kayondo featured in the best eleven for the impeccable performance throughout the tournament. After returning home, FUFA Boss, Moses Magogo urged the players to aim higher in the forthcoming engagements and penetrate the senior national team. 

Almost a year later after their outstanding performance, some of the juniors are counting their blessings resulting from the continental showpiece. Some players have since got clubs outside Uganda while others are still linked to moves outside the country. Others have secured first-team positions in their respective local clubs while others have been called to the senior national team. 

Derrick Kakooza, who was then playing for the Uganda Police FC is among those who have benefited from the tournament. The player secured a move to Latvia-based club Valmiera FC on a two-year deal as confirmed to URN by his agent, Kayemba Solo. 

“He is there for a two-year contract and our main issue putting him there is that he is in a center of Europe where everything is and we think he will be one of the few players who will be playing in the top five leagues in the near future,” Solo told URN.

On July 27, 2021, KCCA FC Confirmed that their midfielder, Steven Sserwadda had joined New York Red Bulls on a permanent transfer. The midfielder joined former Uganda Cranes captain Ibrahim Ssekagyam who is an assistant coach at the New York Red Bulls.

New York Red Bulls is a Professional Soccer Club in the New York metropolitan area. The Red Bulls compete in Major League Soccer as a member of the Eastern Province. Other players including Musa Ramadhan of KCCA FC and Aziizi Kayondo have since become undisputed starters in their respective clubs. The two are also linked to moves in Croatia and the Czech Republic respectively.  

In the same development, midfielder Bobosi Byaruhanga never looked back after the famous tournament in Mauritania. He also became pivotal in Vipers’ midfield and helped his club to win Uganda Cup and complete second in the local league. His performance also helped him to scoop the 2021 best player award.   

Gavin Kizito, who was the team captain in Mauritania, also went on to become the captain of SC Villa while goalkeeper, Jack Komakech secured a move to Premier League outfits Vipers SC. Many other players such as Abdul Azizi Kayondo, Bobosi Byaruhanga, Isma Mugulusi, Kenneth Semakula, Steven Sserwadda, Gavin Kizito Mugweri, and Derrick Kakooza have received calls to the national team in both friendly games and continental games.

Bashir Mutyaba, the FUFA Youth Development Officer told Uganda Radio Network that FUFA has embarked on ensuring that at least the senior national team, the Uganda Cranes comprises some under 20 players as they rebuild the national team.

Luganda;

//Cue in: “enegeri emu kuzo...

Cue out: …emu ku strategies,”//

As a way of identifying other talents, Mutyaba also revealed to URN that FUFA made it mandatory for every premier league club to register at least seven players who are under-21 in their squads.

//Cue in: “eteeka lyali lya …

Cue out: … mu competitions department,”//

Mutyaba said that FUFA has expanded the Junior league from 16 to 96 teams across all regions in Uganda.

//Cue in: “lwakuba nti twafunamu …

Cue out: … esamba juniors league,”//

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