KAMPALA. Stanley Mubiru and Phillip Omondi scored three goals at different African Cup of Nations editions but Omondi’s record stands out for genuine reasons.
Mubiru, fervently known as Tanka in his heyday, is the only Ugandan to bag a brace (in a 2-all draw against Ivory Coast in Egypt 1974) at the continental showpiece.
But Omondi’s three goals in 1978 are venerated more not only because they propelled Uganda to the final but also gave the Cranes their first-ever Afcon victory. The KCC FC legend opened his account with the opener in the 3-1 win against the Republic of Congo, the 1972 African champions.
Omondi did not score in the 3-1 loss to Tunisia, but added to Godfrey Kisitu’s and Moses Nsereko’s goals to complete the 3-0 thrashing of Morocco, in just the opening 36 minutes, as Uganda topped Group B with four points.
He closed his account with a 58th-minute winner in a 2-1 victory over Nigeria in the semis March 14.
Omondi finished among the three joint top scorers alongside Nigeria’s Segun Odegbami and Opoku Afriyie, who scored both goal as hosts Ghana beat Uganda 2-0 in the final.
Uganda’s absence on the continental turf for 39 years shielded Omondi’s feat like a lioness does its cubs through the years the Cranes had equally gifted goal scorers like the late Majid Musisi, Andrew Mukasa, Hassan Mubiru, among others. But that again underlines Omondi’s greatness.
Fourty one years later, Emma Okwi, Patrick Kaddu, and Faruku Miya, a new breed of players, are allying to drag the Cranes away from the ’78 shadow, first by beating favourites DR Congo 2-0, Uganda’s first win at the African Cup of Nations since ‘78, and enhancing their chances of replicating Omondi’s goal heroics.
Of course not dragging the Cranes to the final, but improving their probability to advance from Group A, despite kicking off as minnows, and giving one among themselves a chance to score at least three goals.
Okwi, whose deft looping header in 48 minutes cemented Uganda’s 2-0 win over Congo, scored the 12th-minute opener in the 1-all draw with Zimbabwe Wednesday to not only take the Cranes closer to the knockout round, but also take himself to just a goal shy of Omondi’s record. Other contenders
In Gabon 2017, Kaddu was unknown. But when he brushed in that superb header to shoot Uganda into the lead in 14 minutes against favourites Congo, he grabbed attention.
Referring to that goal, on NBS TV, his hard-to-please club coach Mike Mutebi went hyperbolic, saying something like: “Kaddu has the best movement…he reminds me of Jurgen Klinsmann.”
He wasted the chance to sore the winner against Zimbabwe. But most importantly, he opened his Afcon account and Omondi’s record is within hailing distance.
Miya, who scored Uganda’s only goal in Gabon 2017, has been key in both games so far. Against Congo he assisted Kaddu and Okwi, with a pair of deft set-pieces, yet he begun the move that ended in Okwi’s goal against Zimbabwe. But with two games without a goal, the Gorica midfielder has just an outside chance to match Omondi’s tally.
UGANDA’S PAST SCORERS AT AFCON
1962: John Bunyenyezi (1),
1968: Polly Ouma, (1), Denis Obua (1)
1974: Stanley Mubiru (3)
1976: Obua (1), Jimmy Muguwa (1)
1978: Omondi, (3), Godfrey Kisitu, (2), Samuel Musenze (1) abdulla Nasur (1) Moses Nsereko,(1) Semwanga (1)
2017: Faruku Miya (1).