Q&A : “It was tough and hard,” coach Zungu Hassan describes Gaddafi’s journey to Upl

ZUNGU: Professionalism starts with you as an individual. But also Fufa should continue sensitizing its stakeholders through Club Pro Agenda and other avenues as well as setting the standards.

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Gaddafi Football Club August 17, 2021 beat Proline FC 2-0 in the Fufa Big League play-offs final and sportingly earned promotion to the 2021-2022 Uganda Premier League season. Tooro United and Arua Hill are the other two newly promoted teams.

The Soldier Boys didn’t only accomplish this in just their first time of asking but also at the hands of a young coach below 30 years of age. His name is Zungu Hassan.

Coach Zungu Hassan| Courtesy Photo.

To understand more about Gaddafi’s sweet but hot journey to the country’s top flight football league, Vicent Kakooza (VK) engaged coach Zungu Hassan (ZH) in a Question and Answer (QA) virtual interview.

VK: Good evening coach, congratulations on the promotion.
My name is Vicent Kakooza from Sta Daily News.

ZH: Thanks please, nice to talk to you.

VK: My pleasure coach. First, how would you describe/ sum up your Big League journey?

ZH: For sure it has been so tight, competitive, few teams, and the fixture was so tight.
Little time for recovery between the matches. Like you may have a match at home on Thursday, then on Sunday you have another match in Arua then on Tuesday you play at home again!
I think for that case you can’t get enough time for recovery. Generally, it was so tough and hard.

VK: I understand, but when you talk of few teams, do you support a proposal to merge the groups into one that has 12 teams?

ZH: It [merging the two groups into one] will be good but it also some
challenges.

VK: Most people complain that it will be hard for teams to traverse the entire country to honor the fixtures, what would be your fears if you still coached in a big league of more than ten teams?

ZH: The problem isn’t traversing but is to professionalize the league.
Officiation, pitches, teams having a capacity to take care of their players etc.

VK: Okay, but how simple can this be given the fact that even UPL [StarTimes Uganda Premier League] isn’t yet professional?

ZH: True[he agrees that UPL has yet to be professionalized] but people think that being professional is all about the federation[Fufa]. It starts with individuals.
Coaches, players, CEOs, etc
Though the federation has to set the standards. That’s if we want our leagues to be professionalized.

Zungu Hassan during his time at Busoga United|Courtesy Photo.

VK: You talked of being professional, to what extent were you professional as a team?
And what do you suggest should be done for both UPL and FBL to be professional?

ZH: The fact is that not so much but what I know is that we tried as much as possible to be professional as individuals and as a team.

Professionalism starts with you as an individual. But also Fufa should continue sensitizing its stakeholders through Club Pro Agenda and other avenues as well as setting the standards.

VK: Anyways, let’s return to your success at Gaddafi, what helped you achieve the promotion?

ZH: Teamwork, Team spirit and trusting the Almighty Allah.

When I went there [at Gaddafi FC], I found a team with complete players. A team with both young and senior players with various qualities.
It was just a matter of having team spirit.

Zungu Hassan and his players plot for the next assignment.

VK: Great. How much did Covid-19 and lockdown affect your team?

ZH: It really affected us because I remember before the lockdown, we were better in all aspects, mental toughness, tactically, technically and the physical fitness.
But after the lifting of the lockdown by the President, Fufa granted us a one and half weeks to prepare the play-offs.

To me, I think that time was so limited for the players to grasp all the aspects of the game.

VK: Talking about preparations, Gaddafi had at least one of the most appropriate preps as compared to your opponents. How supportive has the club administration been?

ZH:Honestly they have been so supportive and that’s one of the factors why we achieved that success.

VK: Now that you are in UPL, what’s the plan for as far as player additions and making sure the team stays in the league?

ZH: We shall have discussions with the management.

VK: Many clubs sack coaches who have helped them in promotion, how secure are you?

ZH: Of course we shall have to sit down and discuss way forward.

VK: Okay coach, by the way, I watched you as a player at Kirinnya JSS [now Busoga United] as it got promoted to UPL. How different it is to help a team get promoted as player and coach?

ZH: Playing and coaching are two different things. For sure in coaching there is too much pressure than playing.
Remember those players are human beings, they have their own weakness, they have fear, different qualities and different backgrounds.

And you have to think for that group of people [players] and merge them so that you get the best out of them.
But in the field of play, they [players] are the ones to make decisions having prepared and taught them before.

VK: Coach, how do you describe your football philosophy?

ZH: I like keeping the ball. I like to attack the small space and defend the bigger space.
When we don’t have the ball, everyone runs in order to recover it and when we recover it, we try to play and get the right moment to attack.

Pass the ball, pass the ball, pass the ball and extra pass, that extra pass keeps us together so that when we lose the ball, it is easier for us to recover it in the shortest time possible.

VK: My last two questions, by the time you were named head coach, how many games were remaining? Which one was the hardest?

ZH: There were 12games remaining. Blacks power FC away game was the hardest[the game took place on June 3rd,2021 and it ended 0-0].

VK: Any other issue you wish to talk about?

ZH: I take this opportunity to thank everyone. The club president LT Colonel Edrine Ochen, Chairman Mukose Rajab, CEO Mukembo Paul, Technical Director Afande Matovu, Mr. Salmin Saleh, Mr. Ndugga Emmanuel, .
Technical. My assistant coach Kyeswa William, Medical team, Media team led by miss Aisha, Talenga Andrew, Costa, Support staff led by Muyanga Isaac, the main actors I mean the players, Coaches and and players who were in the club before and they are not around at the time of success and fans. Lastly the Almighty Allah.

Gaddafi FC Team Doctor Edrine Precious was one of the main pillars of the success|Courtesy Photo.

Coach Zungu Hassan at a glance:

•Zungu Hassan was born on 23rd November, 1992 at Jinja main hospital to Wabusimba Musa and Kaidu Hajjira. Both parents are still alive.

•He is the first born of eight children.
For his education, Zungu went to Owen road nursery between 1998 – 2000.

• Njeru Primary School,
Buikwe –
Primary Leaving Examination (2001-2007).

• Jinja Senior Secondary
School, Jinja –
Uganda Certificate of Education (2010-2011).

• Jinja Senior Secondary
School, Jinja –
Uganda Advanced Certificate of
Education (2012-2013).

• Makerere University – Certificate in Business
Administration(2015-2016).

•Makerere University – Diploma in Business
Administration.

Playing Career:
•2013-2016: Kirinya Jinja SS FC (2nd Division League).

•2012 to 2013: Kirinya Jinja SS FC (3rd Division League).

•2011-2012: Jinja SS Kisima FC 4TH Division.

•2008 – 2010: Nile Perch FC, Buikwe District 4TH Division.

•2010 – 2013: Jinja SS Football team and won both regional and district championships except in 2013.

•2004 – 2007: Njeru Primary Football Team.

•2004 – 2010: Nile Football Academy
NB: Kirinya Jinja SS FC was later renamed Busoga United FC in 2019.

Achievements:

•On August 17th, 2021 Zungu at only 28 years old, guided Gaddafi football club to the Uganda Premier League as head coach.

Gaddafi FC players thanking could not thank God more for helping them secure promotion.

•In 2017 won the Copa Coca-Cola youth football championship with Jinja SS
in Masaka as Head Coach.

•In 2016, he led Kirinnya Jss and won the second division[Fufa Big League] champions hence earning promotion to 1st division [Uganda Premier League].

•In 2013, Zungu was Captain for Kirinya Jinja SS and scored the only goal that
won them the 3rd division championship and hence being promoted to
the 2nd division.

• As a player, Zungu worked under coaches
Tebyasa Sebukyu, Kalanzi James and Lucha Mathew(RIP).

• Later at Kirinnya Jss, he worked with Bogere Abbey Kikomeko as both player and assistant coach.

• Other coaches who have trained Zungu are Makuumbi Richard and Twinamasiko Mark.
•He also worked alongside Alex Isabirye Musongola as a trainer at Kirinnya Jss.

•Zungu would later assist coach Lukula Charles Ayiekoh at Kirinnya Jss and Busoga province in Fufa Drum.

•Zungu attended his beginners coaching course in June 2017 and currently holds a CAF C coaching Diploma attained from Makerere University.

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