Tonny Mawejje’s first half goal for a 1-0 qualifying victory away to Comoros last Saturday left Ugandans with renewed hope of making the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon.
The result, never mind against a team 119 places below Uganda, catapulted the Cranes to six points from two games and opened a three-point gap on Burkina Faso and Botswana in Group D. Yet, we cannot ignore the story of pain behind the man, whose goal separated the two sides, coming into the match.
Since his decent output at IBV Vestmanjar (Iceland), where he scored 10 goals in 105 games over four years, the former Masaka LC, KCC, URA and Haugesund (Norway) player, has endured some tough times.
Mawejje was later to fall out of favour at IBV and was shipped out on loan to South African club Golden Arrows in early 2012. After his loan spell, he signed a contract with the Norwegian club Haugesund ahead of the 2014 season.
Mawejje’s playing time at club level was fast diminishing at this time. In July 2014, after only three appearances for Haugesund, he moved to Valur on loan before becoming a free agent in January this year.
All the while, Mawejje – whose selflessness saw him rule himself out of a trip to Liberia for a World Cup qualifier in 2013 citing unfitness due to lack of club football – nursed a hurting heart. But it is the first six clubless months this year that ate him away the most. “It was quite a difficult time to go through all that period without active football,” he told Daily Monitor ahead of his return to Kampala with the Cranes today before flying back to Iceland later. Mawejje signed for Icelandic second division side Thróttur Reykjavík recently and has since played five matches with them.
“Honestly this was a big challenge (period without club) in my career because I have never gone through such, but as it is my nature I never give up no matter the situation.”
His lack of club football meant he was not in shape in June to be called for Cranes’ qualifier against Botswana at Namboole.
“Of course being out of the Cranes by then wasn’t good on my side but again I knew it was a good idea to be left out because I was not active,” said Mawejje, adding, “A national team is not a village team you can just join from the streets.”
Group D standings
P W D L F A Pts
Uganda 2 2 0 0 3 0 6
Burkina Faso 2 1 0 1 2 1 3
Botswana 2 1 0 1 1 2 3
Comoros 2 0 0 2 0 3 0
NEXT GROUP D GAMES
March 25, 2016: Comoros vs. Botswana
Burkina Faso vs. Uganda
March 28, 2016:
Botswana vs. Comoros
Uganda vs. Burkina Faso
Mawejje’s key cranes goals
8 June 2013: Uganda 1-0 Liberia (WCQ)
15 June 2013: Uganda 2-1 Angola (WCQ)
6 September 2014: Ghana 1-1 Uganda (AfconQ)
5 September 2015: Comoros 0–1 Uganda (AfconQ)
***Four others of Mawejje’s 8 Cranes goals came in Cecafa***