Uganda: How Express Polished the Gem in Eric Kambale Into Pure Gold

No doubt 15-goal hero Eric Kambale ranks way up among the top performers for Express as they lifted the seventh StarTimes Uganda Premier League title last week.

Before that heroic mark, life had thrown lemons at the Congolese striking import, and with patience and perseverance, he made lemonade out of it.

From the thick forests of Bukavu to the bustling Kampala three years ago, Kambale was guided by compatriot Toto Songe, the former Express winger turned businessman, who escorted him by bus to the city centre.

In the first two turbulent years at Wankulukuku, Kambale’s potential was beyond reproach but few cared to dig into the troubled the lad. At one point, Kambale’s future with the club looked done for as rumours suggested he wanted was flirting with Congolese clubs.

Being unsettled off the pitch was evident on the pitch. His performance deteroriated under coach George Simwogerere and later Kefa Kisala and the forward was almost considered a Red Eagle past even before his career had started.

Along came Wasswa Bbosa, who set out to rejuvenate the club by sharpening the claws of the Red Eagles. Kambale happened to be one of those claws and Bbosa and his team set to work to turn the youngster’s troubled career around.

The player responded with 15 league goals, one adrift of top scorer Yunus Ssentamu (Vipers).

He soon forgot the injuries, pitiable form, absconding from duty and contract dilemma that had made life hell for him.

“In the past I had many injuries and they interrupted my consistency. I’m now 100 percent fit and ready to repay Express’ faith in me,” said Kambale during the season.

Struggles, uncertainty

The excitement that comes with a new acquisition faded months after Kambale failed to hit the ground running. Much of it can also be blamed at the lukewarm administration then and the high rate of managerial turnover.

Wasswa Bbosa and James Odoch were supportive and determined to mend Kambale. Former Express striker and Cranes great Hassan Mubiru, who is in charge of training forwards, took a great liking for the forward and trained him.

“My teammates and the technical team have supported me and I thank God for that,” Kambale told Daily Monitor.

When the goal taps opened, Kambale, who had even run back to Congo at some point out of frustration, was rewarded with a three-year year contract.

The club CEO Isaac Mwesigwa took it upon himself to cater for Kambale’s every need has his market value rose by the day.

The teetotaler go-getter

Express deputy coach James Odoch says Kambale seizes the slightest of opportunities with both hands.

“Firstly, Kambale is a talented and versatile footballer, well behaved and trains hard. The injury to George Ssenkaaba and Frank Kalanda’s indifferent season forced us to shift him to play centrally, closer to the goal, and he never looked back,” said the former Express and Uganda Cranes midfielder.

“He holds the ball, has good ball sense and trickery and utilises his aerial threat to near perfection,”

At Express,Odoch is tasked with handling midfielders while Bbosa takes defenders through the drills.Odoch intimates that the first instruction he throws to his midfielders is to trace Kambale and get him in motion.

It is within the 21-year-old’s habit to rate himself every after a match and will ask his coaches what went wrong if he fails to find the back of the net.

“He yearns to learn and gets special training from Hassan Mubiru (the strikers coach at Wankulukuku). He was awful in one on one situations with the goalkeepers, Mubiru polished him and soon he was lethal against Kitara, Busoga United (in the Uganda Cup) and netted a jaw-dropping hattrick against Kyetume,” Odoch reveals.

He believes Kambale will not be swept away by the newfound fame because he

doesn’t drink alcohol, wants basic things, is not into showbiz and women.

“He is always the first at training and the last to leave. He at times jogs from Kabowa to Wankulukuku and will only grab a boda when he is late.

“When he faces any challenge, he works the phone and talks to Songe who has more exposure about Uganda,” Odoch stressed.

Kambale scooped the May player of the month after a scintillating run in which he scored eight goals in five games as his boss Bbosa took home the coaches’ gong.

Alternative view

Kambale is still a rough diamond, says Hassan Mubiru

A man of few words, Hassan Mubiru, the former Express,SC Villa and Uganda Cranes net banger, comes to life when eulogizing Kambale.

“I’m glad to be coaching a talented striker. You can spend time teaching on a poor striker and earn nothing.

I thank management for looking after the player because it is not easy to look after foreign players,” he expounded.

Mubiru, thrice the league top scorer, believes Kambale can net over 20 goals next season if he shuns the current hype and stays put.

“There strikers that can get the defenders out of the way and there are strikers that think their movements before pouncing to hit – Kambale is one.

“He shouldn’t think of moving on to another club so fast but first prove that he isn’t a one hit wonder yet his value will also increase.

“Kambale is not yet at the level of playing for a big nation like Congo, he should first grab the opportunity with the Cranes,” Mubiru advised.


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Author : Monitor

Publish date : 2021-07-10 08:47:05

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