Uganda Cranes captain Denis Masinde Onyango has broken silence about the infamous players strike during the 2019 AFCON in Egypt.
Cranes players boycotted training due to unpaid allowances as they chose to remain at Raddison Blue Hotel prior to their encounter against Senegal in the knockout.
Onyango, who was speaking to Thomas Konaitwe in the latest edition of Soccer Laduma magazine, blamed the strike on Football governing body in Uganda – FUFA.
“Let me confess that we did go on strike,” narrates Onyango. “It’s a problem within African federations. We just don’t prepare well enough. We do not anticipate for certain things to happen. You see, when we left Uganda for camping in Abu Dhabi, we agreed on certain things.”
“But when you want things to work, in
particular with footballers, you have to be specific and quite transparent with players. You don’t engage in a lot of mathematical jargon and that’s what federations across Africa need to understand. If we agree that you pay us US$4000 for a win and US$2000 for a draw and nothing for a loss, why do they always make things difficult in their implementation of such a simple issue?
“When you draw up a code of conduct, you bring it to the players and let them read it through. But they (FFUFA) brought the code of conduct around midnight when we were departing for the airport en route to Abu Dhabi and they forced the players to sign the document, which was an indication that something was fishy. We stayed in Abu Dhabi for three weeks in preparations and no one bothered to come out and explain to the players that code of conduct and what it entailed.
“So, what did you expect when it was time for them to pay up? They referred us to the code of conduct and do you think players care about the small print contained in the code of conduct?”
When asked on what the FUFA code of conduct entails, Onyango responded:
“The bottom line is that we agreed with the Federation that in the group stage, we would receive $4000 for a win and $2000 for a draw. And if we got out of the group stage, we would receive US$6000 per game. We won and drew against DR Congo and Zimbabwe, which qualified us to earn US$6000. We were supposed to earn an additional US$6000 for qualifying for the knockout stage, but they informed us they had already paid us the US$6000 and that is when we took the decision to strike.”
Uganda had a good campaign, beating DR Congo 2-0 in the opener before drawing one all with Zimbabwe. The team reached the knockout despite a loss to hosts Egypt in the last group game.
However, their impressive run was ended by Senegal.
Onyango on Micho
“Micho was a massive influence. Remember the first time he arrived to coach in Africa, he came straight to Uganda directly from Serbia and he won the league and cups as well as the regional CECAFA club championship. So, he knew the mentality of
Ugandan players and when he returned to become national coach, we missed qualifying for the 2015 tournament through goal difference. Micho believed
in the players he had assembled and was a very good motivator.”