KAMPALA. Little did Savio Kabugo know that what started as some small, nagging pain on his upper left shin (tibia area) late 2014 would escalate to keep him out of football action for two years, and national team just under three.
The pain started in a friendly against the U20s before the senior national team travelled to face Ghana in the 2015 Nations Cup qualifying opener, but the team doctor administered sedatives on him and he faced the Black Stars.
Kabugo, in his early 20s, went on to play all Afcon qualification matches but the following year was one of frustrations and agony.
The pain kept him out of action at his then club, the now defunct Sports Club Victoria University (SCVU), and even when KCCA signed him on with hope of treating him back into action, the player never kicked a ball over the six months at Lugogo.
He has, however, managed to recover from this mysterious injury fully, playing the 2016/17 Uganda Premier League (UPL) season with Proline.
Kabugo’s impressive display at the heart of Proline defence attracted former Uganda coach Micho Sredojevic’s eye, the Serbian summoning him for the goalless friendly draw with Ethiopia and the two Chan games over South Sudan.
Now preparing with his teammates for the first leg of the 2018 third round Chan qualifier against Rwanda on Saturday at St Mary’s Kitende, Kabugo says the dream is on again. “Now it’s history,” Kabugo said of the pain that troubled him to the point of considering quitting football, “I’m now mentally top and the injury no longer plays on my head. “I’m so honoured to be back in national colours. It was not easy. It was a difficult time. I had to make tough decisions.
“I even had to stop drinking because that was taking toll on me. I last touched alcohol two years ago.
“Getting involved with church more and putting more dedication on personal training has helped me a lot.” The Proline defender added: “Now I’m taking all the chances that come my way and am confident I will soon get back my regular place in the senior team.
“Of course I know we are many fighting for places in the national team but I have been there and I know what to do to get back there.”
KABUGO AT A GLANCE
2015: KCCA (six months)
2018 Chan, 3rd round
Aug 11: Uganda Vs. Rwanda
Aug 18: Rwanda Vs. Uganda
2018 World Cup qualification
Aug 31: Uganda Vs. Egypt
Sept 5: Egypt Vs. Uganda
Group E standings
P W D L F A GD Pts
Egypt 2 2 0 0 4 1 3 6
Uganda 2 1 1 0 1 0 1 4
Ghana 2 0 1 1 0 2 2 1
Congo 2 0 0 2 1 3 2 0