Uganda’s Sseninde among legends to grace CAF African schools football championship
By Emmanuel Sekago
Kampala – The kick off of the inaugural CAF African schools football championship continental finals is slated for Wednesday April 5th up to 8th April in Durban, South Africa, and all is set according to organisers.
Former Uganda Crested Cranes player Jean Sseninde is among the nine African Legends who are down in South Africa to lend their voices in support of the inaugural tournament that will see top schools on the continent come together in a festival of youth football as their role models in football is hugely important in guiding young players in the game and instilling the love for the sport from an early age.
There are many from across the African continent who have inspired a new generation of stars, and that will be the case too at the CAF African Schools Football Championship Continental Final.
Who are those nine legends already down in Durban, South Africa for the CAF African schools inaugural competition?
Jean Sseninde (Uganda): She was an accomplished player in her day at English clubs Crystal Palace and Queens Park Rangers but is now a hugely respected coach and football administrator. She has created her own football club in Jean Sseninde United with the aim of giving girls and women the opportunity to make a career out of the game, be it on or off the pitch. She was a Uganda international in her playing days and is a hugely respected figure in the African game.
Siaka Tiene (Cote D’ivoire): He is a hugely accomplished left-sided player who spent most of his career at full-back, including a spell with French Ligue 1 giants Paris St Germain, with whom he won the Ligue 1 title.
A product of the famous ASEC Abidjan production line of talent, he rose to prominence at South African club Mamelodi Sundowns, before moving to Saint-Etienne in France, and then later Stade Reims, Valenciennes, PSG and Montpellier.
He won just shy of 100 caps for Cote d’Ivoire over a 15-year period and was captain of their side that lifted the Africa Cup of Nations title in 2015. He appeared at seven Nations Cup finals in all, as well as the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Robert Kidiaba (DR Congo): He was a goalkeeper who was famous for his goal celebration! Kidiaba was one of the most colourful characters in African football during his playing days, but also a superb glove man who led his club TP Mazembe to much success on the pitch.
He was signed by Mazembe from AS Saint-Luc in 2002 and remained in Lubumbashi for the next 14 seasons, during which time they won eight domestic league titles and the CAF Champions League on three occasions.
Kidiaba also played more than 60 times for DR Congo and helped them to a bronze medal at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. When a teammate would score, he would sit on the pitch and bounce around in celebration.
Desiree Ellis (South Africa): She is a three-time CAF women’s coach of the year winner but was also a fine player in her own right who has pioneered the growth of women’s football in South Africa.
The current head coach of the national side, Banyana Banyana, has led them to consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifications and held the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations trophy aloft at the last finals in Morocco in 2022.
Ellis also captained South Africa in her playing days as a skillful midfielder. But it is as a coach where she has found her niche and huge success.
Karim Haggui (Tunisia): He is a former Tunisia international defender who spent much of his playing career in the German Bundesliga, as well as France and Switzerland.
He started his career with famed Tunisian side Etoile du Sahel, but left at the age of 20 for Europe and spent the next 14 years in some of the top leagues in the world. He made his Tunisia national team debut in 2003 and helped the side to the Africa Cup of Nations title on home soil the following year. He also played at the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
Stephane Mbia (Cameroon): He has had a superb playing career that has taken him all around the world and made him a stalwart of the Cameroon midfield for more than a decade.
He also served as captain on the national team. Born in Yaoundé, he moved to France as a teenager and turned out for clubs in that country, England, Spain, Turkey and China. He won Ligue 1 with Marseille, and the UEFA Europa League twice with Sevilla, while he was a runner-up in the Africa Cup of Nations with the Indomitable Lions in 2008. He also featured at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Asamoah Gyan (Ghana): He is one of the best strikers to come out of Africa in the last few decades, Gyan broke numerous records and was the spearhead for the great Ghana side which reached the FIFA World Cup quarterfinals in 2010.
He holds the record for most international goals for the Black Stars with 51, as well as the most appearances with 109. He also has the most goals for Ghana at the World Cup with six and is the country’s youngest ever international scorer at the age of 17 years, 362 days.
A truly remarkable player in every sense who played club football in Italy, France, England, United Arab Emirates, China, Turkey and India.
Emmanuel Adebayor (Togo): A striker with immense quality who was the main man for Togo in international football for almost 20 years. He led them to numerous Africa Cup of Nations finals, but perhaps most notably the FIFA World Cup finals in 2006 against the odds.
He was named African Player of the Year in 2008 and scored 32 goals in 88 games for the Togolese. Adebayor also played in the world’s top leagues, including for Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Real Madrid, and was revered for his skill with the ball at his feet. He was a generational talent for Togo.
Lucas Radebe (South Africa): He is arguably South Africa’s greatest ever captain and certainly one of the best exports from the local league as he developed a cult following at Leeds United during more than a decade at Elland Road, where he has a suit named after him.
He was part of the Bafana Bafana squad that won the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations, and led them to two World Cup finals in 1998 and 2002. He was a rock at the back for club and country and also helped unfashionable Leeds to the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League. He rose to prominence at Kaizer Chiefs, where he won many trophies, leading to his nickname in England of ‘The Chief’.
Meanwhile, all the nine legends will grace the official draw of the CAF African schools football championship on Tuesday April 4th, at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, at 3pm, local time.
The draw will be attended by South Africa’s Minister of Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, Zizi Kodwa, the Deputy Minister Nocawe Mafu, and CAF General Secretary Veron Mosengo-Omba.
It should be noted that Uganda’s representative Royal Giants High School will be in today’s draw as Cecafa zone champions.