Ugandan Coaches Who Have Helped Cranes To Qualify To AFCON

The Uganda national football senior team Known as “Cranes” failed to qualify to the forth coming 2022 African Cup of Nation which will be held in Cameroon.

Uganda cranes was defeated by the Malawi Flames in a 1-0 result at Kamuzu Stadium,Blantyre,Malawi. Uganda needed just one point to Qualify but this did not happen.

Due to the Suspension of Cranes head coach Jonathan McKnistry, Abudallah Mubiru was appointed on enterim basis to  lead the national team to the African Cup Of Nations tournament but he failed to make history in these Qualifiers.

However there are some Ugandan Coaches who were given the same Task and helped the team to qualify to the African Cup of Nations and eventually coached the Cranes at the Tournament.

Remember Uganda has seven times played at African Cup of Nations and these are 1962, 1968, 1974, 1976, 1978, 2017 and 2019.

Of the seven editions, 4 ugandan coaches have coached the Cranes at the tournament while three editions have been coached by the foreigners and these are Westeroff Otto in1974 , Milutin Sredojevic “Micho” in 2017 and Sebastien Desabre in 2019.

Fremer Media Sports Desk  has has dig deep to show the only Ugandan coaches who managed to pass the test of both helping the team to qualify to AFCON and coaching it at the prestigious tournament.

Samson Yiga: 1962

The 1962 African Cup Of Nations was the third edition of the tournament. The tournament was hosted by Ethiopia.

This was the first time the qualifiers were introduced on the African continent for a team to play at AFCON. Nine national teams entered the qualification exercise excluding Ethiopia and Egypt who automatically qualified as hosts and reigning Champions respectively.

Morocco withdrew before the qualifiers began, thus leaving only six teams vying for the remaining two spots in the finals. This was the first time Sudan failed to play at the tournament.

The four teams that made it to the finals were Ehiopia(hosts), Egypt,Tunisia and Uganda.

In this edition, Uganda and Tunisia  were the only dubutants while Ethiopia and Egypt were making their third appearance at the tournament.

Coach Samson Yiga  who was assisted by team manager Polycarp Kakooza led the Cranes to feature at it’s maiden African Cup of Nations(AFCON).

Yiga became the first Ugandan coach to pass the test of leading the team to the Prestigious  tournament.

Uganda eliminated Kenya in a home and way fixture to qualify to it’s first AFCON.

Before the team departed for the tournament in Ethiopia, two dependable star players  John Kaddu and Jimmy Sewava “omulogo” were dismissed from the camp by Coach Samson Yiga  because of indiscipline.

Samson Yiga replaced them with John Bunyenyezi and Brighton(England) born Clive Bond.

The Uganda cranes which was captained by experienced goalkeeper John Agard failed to win a single game at the tournament, losin 2-1 to defending champions Egypt and 3-0 to fellow debutants Tunisia.

The first ever Cranes Line up at AFCON

John Agard(GK) ©, David SSimbwa, Joseph Mabirizi, David Otti (RIP), Francis Atema “Jogoo”(RIP), Jimmy Semugabi, Baker Kasigwa, Edward SSemambo (RIP), John Bunyenyezi (RIP), Clive Bond and Odong Kongo (RIP).

Substitutes: John Ngabeki (GK) (RIP), Sam Bukenya, Ben Omoding, George Kakaire and Rustiko Kasozi (RIP).

Note: At this time substitutes were not allowed to play in the tournament

Cranes Squad of 1962 had 15 players.

Cranes Full Squad of 1962

Goalkeepers: John Agard© and John Ngabeki (GK) (RIP)

Defenders: David SSimbwa, George Kakaire and David Otti (RIP)

Midfielders: John Bunyenyezi (RIP), Clive Bond, Sam Bukenya , Jimmy Semugabi and Ben Omoding.

Strikers: Edward SSemambo (RIP), Odong Kongo (RIP), Joseph Mabirizi, Francis Atema “Jogoo”(RIP) and Baker Kasigwa.

The cranes was the last team in the campaign because it finished fourth in this edition.

Robert Kiberu: 1968


This was the sixth edition of AFCON. It was hosted by Ehtiopia.

This campaign had 8 teams that qualified to play in this competition and they included Algeria , Ehthiopia(hosts) , Ivory Coast and Uganda in Group A while Congo-Brazzavile,  Congo Kinshasha , Ghana (holders) and Senegal  in group B.

Uganda cranes under the tutelage of coach Robert Kiberu eliminated Egypt to qualify to the tournament. In the first leg Uganda won the Egyptians 1-0 and made abarren draw with the Pharaohs in order to see them off.

This time the Uganda cranes was captained by Parry Oketch and it had experienced players and stars like goalkeeper Joseph Masajjage, Peter Okee, David Otti, Ibrahim Dafala, Steven Baraza, Ben Ezaga and the team captain.

Uganda lost the opening match 2-1 against hosts Ehiopia and uganda’s Consolation was scored by polly Ouma and this was Cranes first ever goal of the tournament because they failed to score any goal in 1962.

In the second group game, Uganda lost 4-0 to Algeria before losing 2-1 to Ivory Coast.

The cranes finished 8th in this tornament.

The cranes Squad of 1968

Goalkeepers: Joseph Masajjage(Coffee), Gorge Bukenya(Express).

Defenders: James Lukwago, Ibrahim Dafala(Express), David Otti (Coffee) , Ben Ezaga(Prisons)and Benjamin Ashe Mukasa (Coffee).

Midfielders: Steven Baraza(Prisons),  Parry Oketch© (Prisons), John Dibya(Army), Kefa Lori, Peter Okee(Prisons),Francis Kulabigwo(Coffee).

Strikers: Philip Polly Ouma(Army), Swalleh Wasswa(Army) and Denis Obua(Police FC).

David Otti: 1976

Former Uganda Cranes Head Coach David Otti.
Former Uganda Cranes Head Coach David Otti.

The 1976 AFCON was the 10th edition of the tournament. The tournament was hosted by Ethiopia.

David Otti led the Uganda Cranes to play at the 1976 AFCON.

The  Uganda Cranes was dominated by the youthful players like Jimmy Muguwa, Tom Lwanga, Leo Adra, Mike Kiganda among others.

Uganda lost all the three group Stage games. They lost O-2 to Ethiopia before Egypt and Guinea Subjected them to 2-1 defeat. 

 The cranes Squad of 1976

Goalkeepers: Hussein Matovu(KCC), Ali Sendegeya,

Defenders: Jimmy Kirunda©, Ashe Mukasa, Tom Lwanga,

Midfielders: Edward Ssemwanga, Francis Kulabigwo, Moses Nsereko, Stanely Mubiru, Mike Kiganda, Godfrey Kisitu, Jimmy Muguwa.

Strikers: Denis Obua, Phillip Omondi, Leo Adra, Philip Polly Ouma,

Peter Okee: 1978

Peter Okee Briefing the Cranes Players in the training .
Peter Okee Briefing the Cranes Players in the training .

Peter okee replaced David Otti in 1976 as Cranes Head coach and coached the team until October 1984 when he was replaced by George Mukasa.

He guided Uganda cranes to the 1978 African Cup of Nations in Ghana . The cranes went ahead to play their first and last final of AFCON losing 2-0 against hosts Ghana.

Striker Philip Omondi inked his name in the tournament.This is because the legend finished as one of three top scorers with 3 goals.

The cranes Squad of 1978

Goalkeepers: Paul SSali (Simba FC), Jamil Kasirye (KCC), Hussein Matovu(KCC)

Defenders: Mike Diku, Jimmy Kirunda© (KCC), Meddie Lubega, Tom Lwanga(KCC), Rashid Mudin, Ashe Mukasa(KCC),  Sam Musenze (KCC), Eddie Ssemwanga,

Midfielders: Jimmy Muguwa, Timothy Ayiekoh(KCC), Mike Kiganda, Godfrey Kisitu(Simba FC), Abadallah Nasur, Moses Nsereko(KCC),  Edward Ssemwanga,

Strikers: Fred Isabirye, Phillip Omondi(KCC), Polly Ouma (Simba FC),Moses Sentamu(KCC).


Frank Fremer is a seasoned journalist, blogger and political analyst for over a decade in Uganda

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