It was the end of an era and the start of another.
A Tony select team played their first game of the Last dance at the MTN Omondi Stadium, Lugogo on Wednesday but it was also a farewell testimonial for the midfield general Tony Mawejje.
After scoring 22 goals in a number of appearances in a 11 year-old active football career and showcasing millions of wonderful memories, it was time for this exceptionally talented footballer to hang up his boots. Only something massive and memorable would be good enough to rightly reflect his impact
Is this the inspiring, state-of-the-art that will ultimately set the blueprint for ambitious sports men to retirement? Or is this ground just another soulless expression of power? As the crowd is relatively loud anyway, the latter seems more likely.
This house party – Tony Mawejje ‘s testimonial between Tony Mawejje select team and Uganda U23 team – was one to remember. It is not every day that you can see Dennis Onyango, Hassan Wasswa and Charles Livingston Mbabazi in one side, and Bobosi Byaruhanga, Isma Mugulusi and Richard Basangwa in the other.
Although this match marked an end of his playing career, A feeling of appreciation was the overriding emotion. The first half on Tonny’ side involved legend players, but after half time the legends and present were emerged. Emma Okwi netted for Tony’s select after Hakim Kiwanuka had given the Uganda U23 side only for Shaban to win for the George Ssemwogere side.
The Uganda U23 side was coached by Uganda Cranes head coach Multin Sredjovic alias Micho.
The A-list cast was a testament to Mawejje’s status in the game. The fans, gifted his T-shirts, showed their own respect vociferously through the different hand claps and paintings on the fans body.
The first 45 minutes was the Mawejje select that played in the 2017 Africa Cup Of Nations for Uganda versus current Uganda U23 side. The second 45 minutes would be Mawejje’s select blend of current and old versus the same Uganda U23 side with a few changes. In truth no one would care about the result as long as Mawejje got a goal something he didn’t get. The current Uganda was shorn of its players like Disan Galiwango and Muhammad Shaban and captain Emma Okwi who provided the bulk of the experience.
At the start of the game, the current squads of Mawejje’s select and Uganda U23 came out and formed and greeted each other not opting for a guard of honour for Mawejje, along with his teammates waving their hello’s. The goodbyes would be for later.
Centre refeere George Nkuruziza kicked off the match and from a sight of the two lineups showed that it would be a proper game of two halves.
The game started with flashes of good hard work that contained high pressing by the U23 side something that didn’t help them at the beginning but did in a long while.
But before all that, In the SIXTH minute the fans that got onto their feet to show respect for the midfield general who has brought a smile on many of their faces over time.
Bobosi Byaruhanga however unleashed a shot minutes later that went wide of Onyango’s goal after a good ball from Hakim Kiwanuka,.
On the quarter-hour the select team got comfortable and started to rule the proceedings, passing the ball all around with a few flashes on goal just like the U23 side who were also getting some chances despite not holding the ball enough.
Eddy Kenzo who appeared a strong pillar after featuring in the Select team played only 22 minutes only to leave the pitch to bring on Veteran winger Vincent Kayizi.
In the 33rd minute of the game, a beautiful chip over the U23 back line was finished off by Emma Okwi who leveled up matters after Proline’s Hakim Kiwanuka had put the U23 team ahead with commotion among Select team’s area, only for Basangwa to round up Onyango to lay the ball to strike.
With two goals scored in the game, the first half ended with each team holding one goal each.
At the start of the second half, the Select and U23 made some changes to their team with Micho bringing on Titus Ssematimba and Abdullah Salim to put in more movements into the game something the substitutes did so well.
For the Select team they brought on players like Vipers’ Disan Galiwango, Mike Mutyaba and Dan Wagaluka all in search of a great display which looked unlikely at some point due to the energy levels of the U23 side injected into the game by the two entrants Titus and Salim
In the 68th minute, Muhammad Shaban stepped up to put the select team a few minutes after coming on only to score and get substituted for another. Later on It was former Cranes skipper and reknowned coach Charles Livingston Mbabazi who surprised the crowds after getting onto the pitch.
There after it was the young ones show as Micho brought on KCCA ‘s new recruited duo Faisal Wabyoona and Saudi Mayanja, Isa Bugembe, Hassan Jurua, Roger Mugisha, Ivan Ocholit just to put up a great display.
Mawejje left the pitch in the 83rd minute, towards the end of the game as the heavens threatened to break loose but held on just until everything was done
Despite all the entertainment held by the game, it ended 2-1 in favour of the team select.
Mawejje select goalscorers: Emma Okwi 33, Muhammad Shaban 68.
Uganda U23 goalscorers: Hakim Kiwanuka 27.
Mawejje Select :
Dennis Onyango [GK] , Isaac Isinde, Godfrey Walusimbi, Hassan Wasswa, Joseph Ochaya, Dennis Iguma, Eddy Kenzo, Tonny Mawejje, Paul Mucurezi, Yunus Sentamu, Emma Okwi
Godwin Buule, Disan Galiwango, Rickman, Muhammad Kibirige, Vincent Kayizi, Mike Mutyaba, Geoffrey Sserunkuma, Charles Livingston Mbabazi, Geoffrey Massa, Muhammad Shaban, Dan Wagaluka, Mike Sserumaga, Sadam Juma.
Denis Otim [GK], James Begisa, Gavin Kizito [C], Derrick Ndahiro, Ibrahim Juma, Kenneth Semakula, Bobosi Byaruhanga, Isma Mugulusi, Hakim Kiwanuka, Rogers Mato, Richard Basangwa.
Issa Bugembe, Roger Mugisha, Titus Ssematimba, Abdallah Salim, Saidi Mayanja, Faisal Wabyoona, Ocholit Ivan
After the game, Mawejje and all his star studied select team came out to thank his fans who came out to support him and send him off.
Speaking in his words with loads of joy Mawejje came out to thank everyone;
I am so happy about the game and turn up of the fans I want to thank them for turning up for hearing the call and then come to witness my last dance to support also the initiative I promised to start up, the midfielder’s Academy, he said
I want to remind you that I also have another game, I want to call everyone to come up also to the game in Masaka in big number like you have done, I really appreciate your support please continue supporting even others because through supporting each other we can reach the top, he added.
When asked about the new talent witnessed on the day;
Definitely I myself witnessed while we were playing against them, they are really good and just U23, just imagine in ten years time what they will be, Uganda we are so blessed with alot of talent and they to just come up together as a collective effort.”
About his academy, he concluded as he clarified that he decided to something that he knew best but with the help of others he can also call upon Strikers and goal keepers.
With the first game of the last dance done, the second part will be held in Masaka on Friday 16th September 2022.