On Friday 9th April, 2021, defender Hassan Wasswa Mawanda announced his official retirement from the National football team (Uganda Cranes) after 13 years of service.
“It has been an honour to represent my family, my teammates and the people of Uganda. With much sadness but without regret, I realize that I am no longer able to adhere to the unwavering standard of excellence that professional football demands. I say this with a heavy heart. I am retiring from the National team. I love the game of football so much, and I know there is truly only one acceptable way to play. Knowing I can no longer compete at a level that I find acceptable, I have chosen to end my Cranes career,” Wasswa said.
“I thank Allah every day for all that He has given me: my family, my friends, my teammates and for making me Ugandan. Today, I would like to thank God for having been given an opportunity to play for Cranes, and for allowing me the privilege of a 13-year professional football career,” the statement concluded,” he added.
Hours after calling it quits from the team, the journeyman who has so far featured for 13 different clubs has come out to open up on his best coach and player, historical moment and the cranes’ strike during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Egypt.
Speaking to KFM on Saturday, the former KCCA, SC Villa and Vipers defender named Serbian gaffer Milutin “Micho” Sredjovic as the best coach to have served under.
“I think I had the best relationship with coach Micho. He always pushed me, encouraged and motivated me and understood Ugandan players better than any other coach. He discovered the physique in me and I think he’s one of the best coaches,” Wasswa said.
The dreadlocked player who had stints at Turkish clubs Karabükspor, Altay and Kayseri Erciyesspor named goalkeeper Dennis Onyango Masinde as his best friend before revealing some of his best moments.
“My historical moment is when Uganda Cranes played against Kenya under Bobby Williamson in 2011. I was left on the bench and didn’t play the game. The team played wholeheartedly and it’s the game that made me sad that we couldn’t qualify for the 2012 African Nations Cup.”
The game with the Harambee Stars ended goalless and either side didn’t qualify.
Commenting on the ongoing bonus crisis crisis in the Cranes camp, Wasswa had no kind words for the FUFA boss.
“The president told the nation that the players displayed sh*ty football yet he’s the very person who appointed the technical bench coaching these players yet these players have families to cater for. This same incident happened in the 2019 AFCON in Egypt when we claimed our money.”
“We signed a code of conduct with FUFA whereby after winning the game today, we had to be paid the next day. We told the president ‘Magogo’ that we needed our money before the quarter-final game so that we play while relaxed against Senegal which he said it will be done but all in vain.”
“On realizing that we couldn’t be paid after the tournament, we all agreed to stage a sit-down strike and not to attend the next training session at Arab Contractors stadium. Hours afty, the money reached on our accounts and went ahead to play the next day,” he narrated.
The players were protesting their unpaid bonuses totalling to Sh. 22 million ($6,000) for beating DRC and drawing against Zimbabwe.
Before the tournament kickoff, players were promised Sh189 million ($50,000) each for lifting the trophy while a win fetched Sh14.7 million ($4000) and a draw Sh7.3 million ($2,000).
Other teams Wasswa played for included Đồng Nai F.C (Vietnam), Al-Shorta (Iraq), Al-Nejmeh (Lebanon), Tala’ea El Gaish (Egypt) and Al-Ittihad from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).