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FUFA: The meteoric rise of Karim Watambala

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TOTAL AFCON 2021 Qualifiers

Match Day 3: Thursday 12th November 2020 – Uganda Vs South Sudan – St Mary’s Stadium, Kitende (4 pm)

Match Day 4: Monday 16 November 2020 – South Sudan Vs Uganda – Nyayo Stadium, Nairobi (4 pm)

Seven home-based players made it to the list of twenty-seven as the Uganda Cranes team intensifies preparations  for the upcoming AFCON 2021 Qualifier double header against South Sudan.

Inclusive is the budding talent Karim Watambala who caught many by surprise but the Uganda Cranes head coach Johnathan McKinstry is poised with the decision to retain him.

The agile forward who is gifted with great energy and dribbling skills cut his teeth with St Mary’s SS Kitende from where he joined Vipers Sports Club the reigning StarTimes Uganda Premier League Champions.

Coach Johnathan McKinstry with players during training (Watambala is second from left)

According to McKinstry, Watambala is one player who attracts any body’s eye because of his great intensity, real force and positivity he exhibits while playing.

‘Some of the reasons we were attracted to Karim is that he plays with great intensity, Karim attracts everyone’s eye because he does everything with force and positivity. He is really hungry to learn and improve. We have worked with him for the past six months and he gas made step by step progress’  disclosed McKinstry.

Coach Johnathan McKinstry with players during training (Watambala is second from left)

‘He is still young who will make mistakes but in general he is moving in the right direction. There’s no doubt that he deserves to be in the squad and I also think he can learn so much because of the exposure with the experienced players like Khalid Aucho, Mike Azira, Emmanuel Okwi from whom he can learn so much from them and that can help him improve further’ added McKinstry.

McKinstry added that they can not exert pressure on Watambala given his age but he believes there’s a lot they can do to help him reach the highest professional ranks.

Karim Watambala in action for Vipers Sports Club

Karim Watambala gets to the ball ahead of Ibrahim Orit

‘We can’t put much pressure on Karim (Watambala) because he is still young. I have worked with young players of Karim’s age and helped their transition to professional games.  We have to be patient, supportive and understand that he will make mistakes thus help and guide him through’ McKinstry adds.

Karim started his football journey with Blessed Soccer Academy under Coach Isingoma and  Town view Primary School all in Mbale.

He continued playing football at High School at St John’s SS Mukono and St Mary’s kitende was the turning point of his careers from where graduated to Vipers Sports Club.

Karim Watambala was also part and parcel of the 2019 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup Uganda Cranes winning team

Karim Watambala (left) during the work-outs

He featured for Vipers in the 2019/2020 season where he guided the team to the StarTimes Uganda Premier League championship.

During the same year, he also won the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup with Uganda Cranes on home turf , the COPA Coca Cola schools championship and the East African Secondary Schools’ tournament.

Abdul Karim Watambala spent his early life in Mbale where there were a few football figures thus he had no one to look up to.

‘I wasn’t much exposed and didn’t have any role model. I just loved football which I played for fun. It is that wanted to excel in life I always played with zeal to stand out from the rest’ noted Watambala.

Watambala during the Uganda Cranes training session at StarTimes Stadium, Lugogo

The energetic forward dreams of playing in the top leagues and clubs in the world in a few years to come and also make history as one of the greatest footballers from the Pearl of Africa.

Watambala applauds Coach McKinstry for the contribution to the development of his career because there’s a lot he has added to his game since they met.

He calls upon young players to give in their best while playing and eagerness to learn everyday plus and consulting from successful and experienced people to add to what they have.

Watambala breaks away during the trial match against KCCA at Lugogo

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