NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 23 – Tusker FC left-back Shafik Batambuze claims the poor results posted by the reigning Kenyan Premier League and GOtv Shield champions is down to fatigue after the team returned to pre-season training early due to the CAF Champions League.
Tusker are winless in their first five competitive matches of 2017 having drawn one and lost four in succession, despite having the same team of players that delivered the double last season.
“I think the reason is that people have not rested enough after the tough season where we won two trophies. We went back to training because of the Champions League and playing friendly matches as well so people could not rest well,” the Ugandan international said.
However, he is confident the team will bounce back after the international break which he says will give the side ample time to re-organize.
Batambuze was speaking on the sidelines on Wednesday morning after receiving his belated November player of the month award from the Sports Journalists Association of Kenya (SJAK).
Batambuze’s performance in the final month of the league eclipsed everyone else especially his solo strike against AFC Leopards in the penultimate match of the season which saw the Brewers reclaim the Premier League title.
In the final vote by the SJAK football committee, ‘Bachu’ as his peers refer to him collected 16 votes to edge out former Posta Rangers forward Cavin Odongo now with Kariobangi Sharks by a single vote while former Ulinzi striker John Mark Makwatta earned 11 points.
The Ugandan international says he was not surprised with the award, though he admits he had given up after the season ended.
“It is not a surprise because I worked hard and I was expecting it. But I had given up after the season ended and I thought maybe I would not get anything. I was scoring goals from defensive positions and to me that was great.
But when I got the call yesterday, I was encouraged and I want to appreciate SJAK for what they are doing,” Batambuze, previously with Western Stima and Sofapaka declared.
The defender’s performance last season earned him a maiden call up to the Ugandan national team and he made the cut to the 2017 Gabon African Cup of Nations squad though he never made an appearance.
Batambuze though reckons it is a step in the right direction and believes he will soon become a mainstay for the Cranes.
“Football is all about hard work and for me I want to keep on working. The chance will come. AFCON was a great experience and I now want to pick it up from there,” he noted.
He might be in line for his Uganda Cranes debut when the team takes on Kenya’s Harambee Stars in an international friendly match at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on Thursday.
Uganda head coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic is full of praise for the defender and has a particular liking for his prowess in set pieces.