In the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between Uganda and Mauritania at Namboole stadium, Cranes midfielder Kizito Luwagga was subjected to an early shower after being substituted at half-time for left-winger Brian Majwega.
Essentially, this was interpreted by many fans in the stands that Luwagga was the reason Cranes had failed to play particularly well in the first half. But was he really the deserved sacrificial lamb or a mere scapegoat whose talent and approach isn’t getting the appreciation it deserves?
In the first half, Luwagga is the only Cranes player that played in a penetrative pass after beating his marker, which striker Brian Umony mistimed. And on the count of complete passes from the midfielders in the first half, Luwagga had 11, Geoffrey Kizito 17, Farouq Miya 13 and Moses Oloya 12. Therefore, the difference was quite marginal, which didn’t justify his half-time withdrawal only that Majwega’s directness made a difference.
But Luwagga is a different player that can still bring a different dimension going forward with the second leg of this fixture on the horizon. Mike Mutebi, the former Cranes coach, doesn’t think Luwagga has been terrible for The Cranes the few times he has played.
But the general low-key display from the whole team has rubbed off him. In fact against Malawi, in the friendly international preceding the Mauritania game, Luwagga changed the game for the Cranes despite it ending goalless, as he opened up the defence more than any other player had. Mutebi said Luwagga is arguably Cranes most technically-gifted player. He is a dribbler that can help solve the creative defficiences that the team has had over the years.
“The thing that I believe needs to be done is placing him as an outlet for Cranes’ attacks. That will also require devising a playing system where he and maybe Moses Oloya are our pivots right from the training ground,” Mutebi said.
Mutebi quickly added that what he had however, realized was the fact that the team doesn’t play to Luwagga’s strengths, which makes him appear like any other team member. Mutebi recollects a time when Cranes had David Obua. He was the go-to man of the team and most action went through him, hence his fruitful performances then.
In fact, it is wrong to even suggest that Luwagga was played out of position. Right from the time Luwagga developed into a star at Bunamwaya (Vipers FC), he played on the outside. Mutebi explained that Luwagga can’t play through the central axis because he needs a lot more space to dribble, which he can’t find in the crowded central areas, where precise passers can thrive.
“Luwagga’s style is like that of Andres Iniesta or Eden Hazard a player with quick bursts and dribbles, yet not particularly a crosser of the ball but a good shooter at goal.”
That said, Luwagga also needs to learn that he ought to avoid early crosses, something he did a lot on Saturday. By crossing early, he plays the ball in front of the defence, yet if he drags the ball towards the byline and stretches the defence, he provides a chance to cut back and play the ball to a late arriving team-mate to score.
That, and a lot aforesaid is needed for Luwagga to realise the potential he promised before leaving Bunamwaya back in 2012.
Source : The Observer