KAMPALA. He knew that the game against Egypt at Namboole offered a chance to atone for his ‘sins’ committed during Afcon in Gabon. Buildcon and Uganda Cranes defender Isaac Isinde duly obliged and did himself justice in Uganda’s historic 1-0 win over the Pharaohs last Thursday.
With his take no prisoners approach, Isinde, recalled by coach Moses Basena after eight months out in the cold, combined well with defensive partner Murushid Juuko to quash the attacking threat of Mohamed Salah, Hassan Mohmoud and Mohmoud Soliman.
Ahead of tomorrow’s return match in Alexandria that pits Group E table toppers Uganda against second-placed Egypt, the steadiness of the Cranes defence could turn out to be pivotal.
“I thank everyone that supported me and I promise to continue working hard for my country,” Isinde, formerly at Victors and St George in Ethiopia, told Daily Monitor yesterday.
Former Uganda Cranes and SC Villa forward Paul Mukatabala, who handled Isinde at Victors, says he believed it was just a matter of time before Isinde returned to the national team. “I never doubted that he would bounce back,” said the former SC Villa coach, who now heads the Uganda Football Players’ Association.
“He is a positive player who doesn’t give any coach problems. He listens and is obedient. I remember when we signed him for Victors, he didn’t care about the money he was getting, all he wanted was to play.
“There were many players of lesser quality at Victors that were earning more than him, but he would never raise any alarm.”
Mukatabala wants Basena to remain with the back four of Isinde, Godfrey Walusimbi, Nicholas Wadada and Juuko in the reverse fixture.
He adds: “His (Isinde) command and organisation of the back four will be crucial.”
“This current Egypt team is not one of their best. I have seen better Egyptian teams. The key player in Alexandria, more than anyone else, will be goalkeeper, Denis Onyango,” Mukatabala remarked.
Elsewhere Ethiopia-based midfielder Yasser Mugerwa shares the pain felt by any player ignored by the national team technical team.
“It is not a great moment for any player. But being ignored doesn’t put us down as long as one has a club where they can play competitively. It helps to keep active all the time so that the call finds one ready,” said Mugerwa. He reasons that Isinde bounced back because ‘he is a workaholic and has a strong mentality’.