The Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) appointed a new Uganda Cranes coach Sebastien Desabre on a three year contract. The Frenchman will handle a National team for the first time in his coaching career but has vast experience garnered from some of Africa’s best football clubs.
FUFA Communications Department caught up with the 41 year old tactician and here are excerpts of the Interview.
FUFA: Since your arrival in Uganda, how has the reception been?
Sebastien: Ugandans are wonderful people. From the airport to where I stay now-the people are so friendly. I have received a warm reception. I love the environment.
What was your playing career like and how did you become a coach at such a young age?
Sebastien: I played briefly in France in the semi-professional league as a left footed playmaker and soon I made up my mind to focus on the tactics interpretation and at only 26 years I started coaching but with a big dream of coaching a team in the world cup.
I came to Africa, then worked with some of the biggest clubs, won so many titles, gained enough experience and have now switched my focus onto coaching National teams and surely want to win titles with a National team.
FUFA: You have stated that your dream was to become a National team coach at 40 years. Did you ever believe that an African Country would be your first team?
Sebastien: I started my coaching career at a tender age of 26 in France, thereafter I got an opportunity to take charge of a big African team in Ivory Coast- ASEC Mimosa and this marked the beginning of my career in Africa but all along I have harbored a dream of managing a National team.
Before I could do this I needed to first understand the game in different countries. I am pleased that moment finally arrived for me to coach a National team and here we are now.
FUFA: How easy was it for you to choose International football with a National team especially Uganda Cranes?
Sebastien: I needed to take this step at some point and I think it’s a strong choice for me. It is a great moment for me to take charge of a National team that has potential because in this case Uganda Cranes has a nice and promising project. I feel ready to start given my experience.
FUFA: How hard was it for you to leave Ismaily FC, a good run of form, on top of the league log only to say bye to the fans after a 5-0 win?
Sebastien: Yes sure, I stayed there for only six months but had a great time and good working relationship with the players, my support staff and the fans. I had no choice at that moment, there was an opportunity befitting in my career target, a very big step in my career.
This team finished I think in the sixth position last season, I left them on top of the table after a very good run surely it was a hard choice but I feel I gave them the best in the time I was there. I would understand the fans’ feeling but now I focus on my new job because we have a very big project and a lot of work we intend to do.
FUFA: When did you fall in love with the Uganda Cranes to the extent that you could actually apply for the coaching job and later get it?
Sebastien: I enjoyed life in Ivory Coast, Angola and Cameroon. These countries have very many things in common with Uganda. FUFA has done a good job and consequently the team has performed very well in the past few years. My choice to come to Uganda was an easy one simply because the team has very great potential. First I am going to try to understand the functioning and organization of FUFA, local football as a whole and see how well I can implement my philosophy and methodology of the game.
FUFA: How easy was it for you to convince FUFA that you were the right man for this job?
Sebastien: The target of FUFA here is to develop and increase professionalism in the country which aligns very well with mine. The previous coach did a commendable job but now it is important for me to bring knowledge and add my input. I am happy and think it is a perfect project for me. I believe with my experience, my assistants and FUFA we can do a good job and go a long way.
FUFA: Working with local coaches as your assistants, how important could they be in this project?
Sebastien: It is very important for me. I need some time to understand so many things and how they are done. For that matter they (my local assistants) are going to be the link between me and the atmosphere (local football). It is also very important for me as a foreign coach to share my experience with the local coaches as well as learning from their experience. In life everybody has something or two that you can learn from one another.
FUFA: Uganda is up against Zambia, Ivory Coast and Namibia in the Total CHAN final 2018 in group B. How do you rate our chances?
Sebastien: I need to first evaluate my players. I know the Zambian team as well as Ivory Coast. They are strong opponents. I am going to check out Namibia and thereafter prepare my team very well. The ultimate target would be to win the competition, maybe it is possible maybe it’s not but we will work very hard to do well in the competition. The players are fresh from CECAFA and I am going to watch the videos. The two friendly games we are going to have before CHAN finals will help us to work on the weaknesses and adjust tactics.
FUFA: The Uganda Cranes boasts of a very huge fan base and confident of winning games when their team plays at home. What philosophy of football should the players and fans expect?
Sebastien: I have one Philosophy and One Methodology. Each coach actually has his style but may adjust accordingly depending on the situation or opponent. Personally I believe in the offensive style of play but in football it is very important to remain compact and to have defensive discipline as you play your fancy football. But this depends on the atmosphere of play, game, type of players, their level of skills, technical abilities among other things. All in all I like winning with style.
FUFA: Prior to your arrival here, we are certainly sure there could be some Ugandan players that caught your eye
Sebastien: I have watched many games in the past months, and can identify a number of them though no particular ones per say. However going forward it is going to be important to work with two axes; one in the local leagues as well as follow those who play outside. As a coach it is my role to identify new talent in the country but first I am going to focus on CHAN finals as this competition is at hand. I am going to use it to evaluate these players and thereafter embark on the road map to develop football in Uganda perhaps starting with the U20s and U23 teams.
FUFA: Denis Onyango, Uganda Cranes captain and the best goal keeper on the continent. Do you have a word about him?
Sebastien: Denis Onyango’s position is very important for the team and for me a goal keeper contributes about 50% to the team. That position is so vital because so many teams concede from set pieces so you need to have a keeper who can lift the team from the back. Onyango has great experience and spirit and personally feel very proud to have such a player on my team especially for the young players to learn from him. Immediately after CHAN I will have to speak with some of these players to explain to them this project because it is also important for cohesion of the coach and such star players of the team.
FUFA: What kind of message did you deliver to your players the first time you met them a few hours after being unveiled as Uganda Cranes coach?
Sebastien: I asked them to be professional and by this I want change of mentality, attitude as well as develop self confidence. Uganda has very good and talented players like I have already seen in my brief interactions so far. With discipline and right attitude on the pitch and outside they can be better players and we will achieve this step by step.
FUFA: Football in Uganda boasts of the biggest sports fan base in the country as you will see on one of those days in Namboole when Cranes is in action. What message do you have for the Uganda Cranes fans?
I believe in the saying; One team, one federation, One player, one ball, one staff and the fans. Without fans it is impossible to do those crazy things and create those fantastic stories.
One thing I have admired about Uganda in the time I have followed Ugandan football is the love for their National team. I want the fans to support the team 100% and also believe in the project we are going to work on.
I always labour to make my players understand that each minute on the field of play should be dedicated to the fans and the country
FUFA: Any final message?
Sebastien: First I want to thank the federation (FUFA) for the confidence and trust they have invested in me. Secondly I thank Uganda as a country for the warm welcome since I stepped in the country on Thursday 28th December, 2017, it is been fantastic and I feel so proud. My promise to you all is that I will give the maximum of my possibilities to do a good job with this team and make everyone proud of Uganda Cranes.