Ace Football lists and profiles the five greatest Ugandan defenders throughout football history.
Defenders are a team’s backbone, the ones who hang back and do the hard – sometimes unappreciated – job of keeping the ball out of the net.
To succeed in this role, one must possess the grit required to do whatever is necessary. They must also be mentally strong, determined, strong, fast, boast an excellent heading ability, and know how to stop incoming attacks.
So, with these traits in mind, Ace Football lists its choices for the five greatest Ugandan defenders of all time.
5. John Latigo
John Latigo was the full package back in the day. The versatile star could play in multiple positions, from defense to even the attack. He was good at overlapping, scoring, passing, taking set-pieces, leading, and tackling.
The Ugandan started out as a right-winger, before transitioning into a right full-back and later a sweeper.
Latigo made his name at KCC by helping the club win three league crowns, five Uganda Cups, and the 1978 CECAFA Club Championship from 1981 until 1987. He also captained the national team from 1983 to 1988.
4. Tom Lwanga
Rated as one of the most elegant Ugandan defenders ever, Tom Lwanga was special. The center-back didn’t have the brute strength nor the pace required to succeed in the role. But what he lacked in physicality, he made up for in intelligence and style.
Lwanga had an uncanny ability to read the game, using it to great effect to control the tempo. He was calculative and mostly level-headed. His performances made him a prominent member of the national team, even forming part of the Cranes’ run to the 1978 Africa Cup of Nations final.
The defender won two CECAFA Cups and represented the East Africans in the 1976 and 1978 AFCON tournaments.
As for his club career, Lwanga started out in the lower reaches of Ugandan football before joining KCC in 1972. He became a mainstay at the club in a 10-year spell as a player, winning three league titles and two Uganda cups. He later coached KCC to two league titles and one Uganda Cup in the 1990s.
3. Paul Hasule
‘Papa Hasule’ was renowned for his physical prowess, aerial ability, and leadership. Described as the ultimate defender in his prime, the late Paul Hasule was a champion both on and off the pitch.
The Mbale-born star made his legacy at SC Villa, winning eight league titles and four Uganda Cups between 1982 and 1992. He also captained the Ugandan side to CECAFA Club Championship glory in 1987. His performances won him the USPA Footballer of the Year in 1992.
On the international scene, Hasule won the 1989 and 1990 CECAFA titles as Uganda captain. He later coached Villa to further glory and even had a brief spell in charge of the Cranes in 2003.
2. Ibrahim Sekagya
Perhaps not the most talented of the Ugandan defenders, Ibrahim Sekagya’s work ethic and perseverance still took him to unimaginable heights across a 17-year career that saw him venture abroad to South America, Europe, and the United States of America.
Sekagya’s pace, slick play, and aerial presence made him a handful inside the box. The Kampala-born star started out in Uganda at KCC, before heading off to Argentina. He played for Atletico de Rafaela, Ferro Carril Oeste, and Arsenal de Sarandi before joining Austrian giants Red Bull Salzburg in 2007.
It was in Austria where Sekagya truly made his mark. The defender became a key part of Salzburg, making 223 appearances for the club on route to three Austrian Bundesliga titles and one Austrian Cup. He finished his career at sister club New York Red Bulls in 2014 in the MLS.
The now-New York Red Bulls assistant coach was also captain of the Ugandan national team. He won the CECAFA Cup with the Cranes, but never got the chance to play in AFCON.
1. Jimmy Kirunda
Topping our list of the greatest Ugandan defenders in history is the late Jimmy Kirunda.
Kirunda was a complete player back in the day. He could go deep, create chances for the team, and had a knack for scoring goals. His abilities were likened to those of German legend Franz Beckenbauer.
The crowning moment of Kirunda’s career was of arguably captaining Uganda to their first and only AFCON final in 1978, where the Cranes finished runners-ups to host nation Ghana. He also helped the team win the 1969, 1970, 1973, 1976, and 1977 CECAFA Cups.
On the club scene, Kirunda played for SC Villa, Express, and KCCA. The former defender won four league titles, three Uganda Cups, and finished as the league’s top-scorer in 1978 with 32 goals.