Onyango to Retire after AFCON 2019

Written by: 
Alex Mugalu


Uganda Cranes skipper Dennis Masinde Onyango says he will retire from the national duty after the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament in Cameroon.

After the Uganda Cranes-Cape Verde clash at Mandela National Stadium on Saturday, the Mamelodi Sundowns custodian told the media it was time for him to hang his gloves and allow new blood come into the national team.

Onyango’s revelations came just minutes after the Cranes beat Cape Verde 1-0 to secure a second consecutive qualification to AFCON finals—with Onyango as captain. The win on Saturday was a repeat of the September 2016 clash when Onyango, now 32, captained the Cranes to a 1-0 win over Comoros to secure Uganda’s first AFCON qualification in 39 years.

On Saturday, Patrick Henry Kaddu’s 77th minute header secured the win in an impressive campaign that saw the Cranes beat both Lesotho and Cape Verde home and way and draw with Tanzania at home to top Group L with 13 points. Onyango who was excited after the match said it was time up.

“I think I have played my last home game in front of the home stadium, I am to retire from the national team duty after the Cameroon tourney,” he said.

The Cranes captain is confident that his departure will not affect the side as he thinks there are suitable replacements to fit in his now large boots. “There are suitable replacements who will do the job, I believe young talents like Jamal Salim and Charles Lukwago can do better too, we have been working together and they have learnt a lot as we always co-operate,” he said.

Jamal Salim Magoola is a 23-year-old footballer who currently plays for Al Hilal FC in Sudan, while Charles Lukwago plays for KCCA FC. He’s aged 24.

Onyango who is yet to concede any goal during this qualification campaign was overwhelmed to reach the milestone. “I am happy that we kept a clean sheet in all and delivered what we promised. It wasn’t me alone but the whole goalkeeping department and my teammates,” Onyango said.

Cranes fans react

Wilberforce Kitenda, a resident of Gayaza and a strong Uganda Cranes supporter says he has watched Onyango for many years. To him, Onyango is the best goalkeeper to ever don the Uganda Cranes colours. “Onyango is ever green, the best keeper for the Cranes ever. I don’t think we demand anything from him, we need to just thank him for the services he rendered to our country,” Kitenda said.

Moses Baguma, a second year journalism student at Makerere University, said that Onyango has always been great for everything he does for the national team. “Onyango always delivers his best for the national team, he is a saviour, I call him Onyango the great,” he stated.

Makindye West Member of Parliament Allan Ssewanyana also thanked Onyango for the success during his leadership as Cranes captain.  “Congratulations Dennis Onyango for the success and leading the team to AFCON, thank you for leading by example and being there for the team,” he tweeted.

The long career

Onyango started his career at Nsambya Football Club in 1990s  before joining Sports Club Villa in 2003 under the tutelage of Milutin Micho Sredojevic, who would later coach the Uganda Cranes and lead it to its first AFCON qualification in almost 40 years.

Onyango later made a move from Villa in 2005 to start on his international career with Ethiopia's St George where he played for one season before making a move to Super Sport United in the South African premier league in 2006. After two at Super Sport United, Onyango moved to Mamelodi Sundowns up to date.

Onyango has had successful career at Melmelodi Sudowns where he has won a couple of trophies includingthe South African Premier League and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League.

In 2016, the 32-year-old was named among the top 10 goalkeepers in the world by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics. In the same year, the Cranes number one was voted the CAF best player of the year – based in Africa having helped Uganda Cranes to the 2017 AFCON and helping Mamelodi Sundowns to win Champions League.


Photo picked from Matooke Republic