Uganda Crested Cranes star Hasifah Nassuna remembers the 2016 CECAFA Women Championship vividly not because she was the top scorer with six goals but because of one strange incident.
During Uganda’s last group game against Burundi, Nassuna lost her jersey in the dressing room during a halftime break.
Earlier, Faisal Ikwaput’s goal at the stroke of halftime at Njeru had sent Uganda back in the dressing room with a slim advantage.
“I entered the dressing room and as usual, the first thing I do is to remove my jersey to relax my body a bit,” Nassuna remembers.
“There was some commotion in the room this time; one of the players (Christina Nambirige) had fainted and everyone was attending to her. When giving her first aid, one used to sway my jersey to help the patient catch some breathe and regain consciousness. An ambulance was then called, and the player was then rushed to hospital.”
When the storm had calmed, it was now time for the team to go back to the pitch for the second half.
However, Nassuna’s Jersey 10 was nowhere to be seen!
“We checked everywhere in the dressing room but in vain,” Nassuna adds. “I remained behind with Coach Majida Nantanda as the rest of the players stormed back to the pitch.”
Later on, they had to use Jersey 14 which was available – The ‘4’ on ’14’ at the back was turned into 0 to improvise as ’10’ using a roll of tape but nothing could be done for the front part of the jersey.
With some few minutes past the second half, Nassuna shyly went back to the pitch. Was that all? No.
The Tanzanian referee Jonesha Rukya noticed the confusion with the non uniformity of Nassuna’s Jersey which read ’10’ at the back but ’14’ in front.
“I was given a yellow card,” she remembers.
“But the most annoying thing was that my jersey was brought back a minute after I had been booked.
“The guys who had gond with the patient (Nambirige) in the ambulance had gone with my jersey as well.”
Uganda held on for a 1-0 win.
Nassuna later scored the only goal for Uganda as they lost 4-1 to eventual champions Tanzania in the semis and later scored in the losers match against Ethiopia but the hosts lost by the same scoreline.
Quick Fire with Hasifah Nassuna:
SportsNation: Best Player Ever Played with
Nassuna – I have played with many good players like Sandra Nabweteme and Yudaya Nakayenze but It has be Ruth Aturo. She is a goalkeeper which is a special place on the team. We are many good forwards, and many can try to do things we have done before. But the goalkeeping department is very crucial and Aturo has been outstanding.
SportsNation: Best Player Played Against
Nassuna – If its a toughest defender, I haven’t faced many. But if I am to pick one best player, it has to be Resty Nanziri. She is a forward, a typical number nine. Some of those who know her will testify.
SportsNation: Best Coach Played Under
Nassuna – Coach Ayub Khalifa without a doubt. He knows how to handle players. He can always see something different from every player. And he has surely produced the best talent in the land.
SportsNation: Funniest teammate
Nassuna – Hahaha there will always be one Mariam Nakabugo. She can always send the whole team into laughter even after a defeat. I first saw her when she came at Kawempe Muslim SS in Senior One but she could crack jokes all the time, even in training and dressing room.
SportsNation: Your football hero when growing up
Nassuna – It has to be my mother Annet Nakimbugwe (a footballer also). I did not get many coaches growing up, so I used to escort my mother to pitches, and when I wanted to join football, she supported me in everything.
SportsNation: Favourite Goal
Nassuna – It was the one in the 2019 Semifinals against my former team Kawempe Muslim (FUFA Women Elite League Playoffs semis). Those playoffs came during the days after we had lost our dear coach Peter Ssebulime (RIP). Everyone was down after his death, and I remember we even lost to Olila away before the playoffs but we decided to win it for the coach thereafter.