Ugandan football makes major strides in 2018



KAMPALA, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- 2018 has been a good year to Uganda as the east African country continued to make major strides in football, ranking number one in the east and central African region, according to the world football governing body, Federation of International Football Association.

The major highlight was the qualification for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2019 Under 17 Africa Cup of Nations.

At club level, the country's premier league side KCCA FC qualified for the group stage of the lucrative Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League. This was the first time in the country's history.

This year also, CAF selected Uganda to host the 2020 Africa Beach Football Championship.

Moses Magogo, the president of the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) told Xinhua in a recent interview that the country is striving to become one of the best footballing nations in Africa.

"We have maintained to center on development, promotion and protection of our game. I think it is a project now. It is right now starting to bear fruits," said Magogo.

"We started by setting the target to break the 39-year old AFCON qualification jinx and broke it when we played at the 2017 event. Now we have also qualified for the 2019 AFCON. Our approach has been in four areas; re-organize the institution (FUFA) to have strong governance principles, very strong secretariat in terms of staffing and very good policies," Magogo added.

He said the success is also attributed to increased funding of the game from government and private sponsors. He said the federation now gets 3 million U.S. dollars from government and another 3 million dollars from other sponsors.

Previously, according to Magogo, the federation used to get 10,000 dollars in funding.

The federation has also trained over 500 coaches starting from beginners, FUFA Level One, CAF C, CAF B to CAF A.

"We have even put regulations to coach in the Uganda Premier League-a minimum of a CAF A or else we don't license you," said Magogo.

Mathias Lule, the national assistant coach said the country's premier league has been competitive this year, which indicates that football is getting better.

Lule said more opportunities would be given to young players to play in the national team.

"Ugandan football has had a fantastic year mainly because the Federation has worked hard and the government has been more supportive financially," Hassan Wasswa Mawanda, the national team assistant captain who plies his trade in Egypt told Xinhua in a recent interview.

"Come 2019 we want to prove that we are a much stronger team than what some people think because we have gained the exposure," Mawanda added.

One of local football fans Badru Mutumba told Xinhua that he is happy that Uganda has showed great improvement in football in 2018 compared to the past.

"As a fan, I am very happy because the senior team has qualified for the 2019 AFCON and the junior team for the 2019 U-17 AFCON. My only wish is that the level of refereeing in the local leagues improves," Mutumba said.