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Kisala Names Uganda’s Best XI, Reflects on Express-Villa Rivalry

Coach and former Uganda Cranes player Kefa Kisala has named his best Uganda Greatest XI of all time.

Kisala included himself in the best XI in a team that has players “I played with and those I watched play.”

In his blistering career, the gifted left winger played for Military Police, Express and KCCA FC.

His best spell came at Wankulukuku where he was integral during Express FC’s most successful spell in 1995.

He won two league titles (1995 and 1996), five Uganda Cups at Club level and also won the 1996 CECAFA championship with Uganda Cranes.

Kefa Kisala – Uganda’s Greatest XI

He named Sadiq Wassa in goal with Paul Hasule and Richard Mugalu as fullbacks while Philip Obwiny and Robert Mukiibi in centre backs.

Kefa Kisala’s best XI

He named himself on the left flank, while Jackson Mayanja at the opposite end. George Best Nsimbe and Willy Kyambadde complete Kisala’s midfield.

Magidu Musisi and Steven Bogere with the responsibility of finding the goals.

“Jackson Mayanja is the most technically gifted player,” Kisala told The-SportsNation. “He could do everything with the ball. Then also, Steven Bogere though I never watched him so much but I have heard more praises for him.”

The Villa-Express Rivalry, Career Highlights

Kisala says that his best achievement is winning the double with Express FC in 1995.

Then, Express won the league with 13 points above UEB FC in second place before sealing a double with Kakungulu (Uganda Cup) when they beat Posta FC 2-0 (AET) in the final.

“The rivalry between Express and Villa was at its top. Villa had set the bar high for everyone. Even when we won that ’95 double, they mocked us that they had won it already and challenged us to reach the Finals of Africa,” Kisala adds.

SC Villa had won the double three times then – 1986, 1988 and 1989. The Jogoos had reached the Finals of the Africa Club Champions (now CAF Champions League) where they lost to Club Africain in 1991.

The following year in 1996, Kisala and Express FC had a strong run on the continent before losing at the semis against South Africa’s Orlando Pirates 2-1 on aggregate.

“We brought everyone down, every fan supported us because of the good football we displayed. And we played CECAFA finals twice.”

During that successful period, Express FC lost two CECAFA club championship finals; They lost to Al-Merrikh in 1994 and Simba in 1995.

Kisala says that winning the 1996 CECAFA championship with Uganda Cranes comes second among his best achievements as a player. “Its every player’s dream to win a medal with his national team.”

He adds that Footballers then didn’t have the luxury of big coverage like it is today.

“There was no media coverage then, there was only Radio Uganda and no videos for games. The same video bulletin that shows a Tamale red card (football) also had a fight (boxing).

“Exposure to the outside world was very limited, there was much talent everywhere and hence no need for scouts to come from Europe to these ends for talent identification.”

When asked whether he has ever seen himself in another player, Kisala said that there have not been so many gifted left wingers but Nicholas Kabali stands out.

Kabali, formerly at Express FC, was named the 2006 Footballer of the year.

“I coached him (Kabali) and I saw something special about him. It was so bad that indiscipline ended his career.”

Kefa Kisala has coached Express, Wakiso Giants, BUL, UPDF etc. Wakiso photo

Why He Retired At An Early Age?

Kisala called it quits in 2002/2003 before reaching the age of 30.

On retiring at an early age, he says: “There was no money back then for sure. We could go for about a year without pay yet football back then was more demanding. We resorted to playing for fans; we had to identify like five fans to entertain and play knowing at the back of our minds that they will call you at the end of the match and give you some money.

“I left Express but it proved worse at KCC because they didn’t give us transport even, and when you give an excuse of no money for missing any training session, you could become an enemy. So I decided to call it quits.”

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