FUFA President Hon. Magogo Moses Hassim officially received the Uganda Hippos on Monday following their successful expedition at the CECAFA Zonal Qualifiers for the 2023 U20 Africa Cup of Nations. The team hit two birds with one stone, securing a berth to next year’s continental showpiece but as well emerging Champions of the region after defeating South Sudan 2-1 in the final on Friday.
The contingent (players and officials) returned to the country on Saturday and FUFA organized a function on Monday to officially welcome them.
While speaking to the team, FUFA President lauded them for a job well-done but also stated this should be treated as a starting point of achieving the ultimate target of reaching the World Cup.
“It is a momentous occasion for us to be celebrating another milestone. I take this opportunity to thank the players and the coaching staff for a tremendous achievement of returning to AFCON. Our vision as FUFA is to be the number one footballing Nation in Africa on and off the field and that can be achieved by qualifying for such tournaments. We played all the way to the final at the last tournament and therefore, our target should be attaining the same or even better because that gives us the chance of qualifying to the FIFA World Cup,” he said.
The President also indicated, FUFA has been strategic at nurturing talent through several interventions such as the FUFA Juniors League that has given a platform to several players who have represented the country at different levels.
“When we started the FUFA Juniors League in 2015, we had a deliberate strategy of creating a pool of players and we are proud that most of you have come through the ranks. Majority of you have progressed from the U17 team to the U20 and some have gone all the way to play for the Senior National Team. This is the progress that we dreamed of and we believe that the future even holds more for us.” He added.
He spared time and gave a word of caution to the players, indicating success comes with different challenges.
“It is good that you are winners today but this is not the end of the world. This is a critical stage in a player’s career and if you do not handle yourself well now, you are likely to take the wrong path. Talent alone is not enough but you must have the passion for the game, be disciplined and work extremely hard. As you go back to your respective clubs, make sure you keep the same zeal and make sure you are part of the team come February next year.”
The President on behalf of FUFA stated they will give support to the team towards preparations for the final tournament and also promised a cash Prize of five million shillings to every member of the team including players and technical staff.
“As FUFA, we promise full support to the team towards preparations for the final tournament. We want you to go and play to your best abilities and we have proved over the years that we can compete against everyone. Additionally, FUFA will extend five million shillings to every member who was part of the team in Sudan as a token of appreciation.”
FUFA Executive Committee Member Dr. Apollo Ahimbisibwe who also doubles as the Head of International Football appreciated the team for a successful expedition and assured the players of full support from the Federation.
“I want to first of all thank FUFA President for bearing the vision of youth football. As FUFA, we are proud of the job you did in Sudan and we hope more can be achieved. FUFA has always provided a platform for young players to show their adeptness and we commit that more support will be rendered to this team in order to achieve more success.” He said.
Coach Jackson Mayanja lauded FUFA for the opportunity and also making sure the team received the necessary support in a short time.
“I take this opportunity to thank FUFA for the opportunity of guiding this wonderful team. I must confess that the welfare of the team was good and motivation to the team was evident. When I came to the team, I told the players that our target is to go to the World Cup and this success is just part of our journey.” He stated.
Skipper Isma Mugulusi also shared similar sentiments thanking FUFA for the support but also appreciating the technical team for guiding us in our journey at the tournament.