Umony Eyes Redemption

Time is running out for Brian Umony, a one-time golden boy of Ugandan football who badly needs a splendid performance against Mauritania this weekend to rekindle his Cranes career, writes John Vianney Nsimbe.

From a metatarsal injury in his foot to thigh injury after thigh injury, Umony’s time playing in Tanzania for Azam FC has been a nightmare. But he is hoping that fortune will finally allow him have his break in football with a clean bill of health starting with The Cranes.

The little boy from Nebbi district introduced himself as a star in the making, yet the projected fairytale that started glimmering then, has never really been realized.

Not only was he the tournament’s best player then, but was the top-scorer with five goals in six games. His form continued subsequently in friendly internationals that followed soon after.

Against Sudan in Khartoum, he scored a brace for Cranes in a 2-0 win before helping Cranes win 2-1 against Malawi in Namboole. It all looked rosy then from a point when he inspired KCC to the 2008 League title right through his dominant display for the Kasasiro boys in Caf competitions in 2009. With five goals in eight Caf club games, Umony was destined for greatness.

In fact, it was against that backdrop that his move to SuperSport United in July 2009 was greeted with high expectation. However, a move away from Uganda to SuperSport United in July 2009 before getting loaned out a year later to Pretoria TUKS and then MLS side Portland Timbers, conspired to disrupt Umony’s rise into the national team.

For one reason or another, he wasn’t playing. “Truthfully, I wasn’t prepared for professional football because here in Uganda we depend on individual talent and when I got to South Africa, the training methodology was so exotic and difficult for me. That is why I struggled to settle in,” Umony said.

Umony wasn’t playing enough football and then injuries made it even worse, as his caps were sporadic. In fact Umony has no continental qualifier goal although he probably could have taken that monkey off his back hadn’t his last Cranes game not been the friendly international against Rwanda in Kigali that ended 2-2.

He limped off at half-time after suffering an injury, which marked the beginning of his nightmares. Since then, he has been in the treatment room and hardly featured for his club side Azam.

“I played less than 20 games for Azam since I joined on a two-year deal. I only scored five goals.”

Umony’s fitness and form has been that bad, something he is trying to reverse now. With two sessions of gym work to strengthen his body and muscles, coupled with a three-hour Cranes training programme over the last three weeks, Umony believes he is over 50 per cent fit now. That, coupled with the build-up games against the regional sides that coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic has given him a run out, has put him up to speed and also allowed him to gauge the state of his body as far as injuries are concerned.

However, although Cranes is his focus now, Umony can’t help wondering whether he will get a contract renewal at Azam FC. “Azam has been so good to me and given me the best medical treatment I could ever ask for. But if they don’t re-sign me beyond my contract in January 2015, I will understand it.

Azam won its first League title last season despite Umony’s little influence on proceedings. But Umony hopes he can be influential in Cranes colours like he once promised beginning this weekend against Mauritania in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

Source : The Observer

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