Uganda Cranes captain Khalid Aucho has narrated his football journey that include a couple of stumbling blocks.
In a wide range interview, the Young Africans midfielder reflected on his ‘hard’ life in Egypt and also spared some time to break silence on his previous suspension on the National team.
It’s a touching story of Aucho who lost parents at an early age, and had to sale refreshments at Bugembe stadium and work in an abattoir to make ends meet.
Born to the late Muhammed Kakaire and Harriet Nalumansi in Jinja 28 years ago, Aucho started his education journey at Alliance and has passed through many schools including Narambi, Namagabi, Kabowa, St Thudus and Iganga.
The beginning of his football journey can be traced at BB Academy when he was around 10 years
“At the Academy we were then coached by Coach Lukyamuzi, many call him ‘Germany’. He trusted me the minute I juggled the ball five times. But unfortunately, the academy closed and we had to look elsewhere,” Aucho said in an interview with Ibrah K Mukasa.
“I remember when my Dad died, then his former workmate Dan Maaso called me to go and stay with him. So I started to work with him at the abattoir (slaughterhouse – Lufula) where I could do a little bit of everything including washing offals (internal organs of a cow – Lufula). I could be there as early as 6am and do what am supposed to do before going to school.”
Aucho revealed that he studied under football scholarship from Primary Six. He worked at the abattoir from around 2004 to 2011.
Breaking Through The Ranks…
Aucho played for Bugembe United and Jinja Municipal (First Division) before signing for Water FC and later Simba FC.
He remembers: “I went to Simba for trials but they made me us run the whole sessions and I had to leave and return to Jinja after just one week.”
“They were then coached by Fred Kajoba who also had Billy Kiggundu. Kiggundu made us run run run…it was an army-like training!”
“Umar Kasule then called me and informed me about the deal to join Maji (Water FC) which was then coached by Charles Ayiekho. I impressed and I was signed after two days there. I was paid Sh180,000 per month then.
“But the club was relegated and I had to look for greener pastures. So I visited Simba again in Bombo. Coach Kajoba joking said that he was not allowing me to relegate his team as I did with Maji… I managed to sign with them and I had good time there. In fact, its Coach Kajoba who changed me from defence to midfield.”
Aucho left Simba to join Kenya’s Tusker FC in 2013 and he has never looked back after stints with Gor Mahia, Baroka (Kenya), Red Star, OFK Beograd (Serbia), East Bengal, Churchil Brothers (India), El Makasa (Egypt) and Young Africans (Tanzania).
“My dreams have come true, to an extent at least. I know many will ask why I did not break through in Europe but we are not all destined to be there. Plus it’s not written anywhere that all good players must play in Europe. And also, why should I play for a European club that pays me 3000 dollars while there is one in Africa that can even double that?”
Uganda Cranes Debut…
Aucho made his debut for the Uganda Cranes against Rwanda in a 1-0 victory at the 2013 CECAFA Cup. But his senior team debut came later away to Zambia in an international friendly.
“During Cecafa in Kenya, coach Micho was impressed with my performance and so he summoned me in the senior team squad in preparations for the AFCON Qualifiers. So we had a friendly away to Zambia first. I was very excited to play with the senior players. I had a good game and I remember Andy Mwesigwa called me to his room and he gave me lots of encouraging words. He advised me to remain calm and not taken away. He jokingly tasked me to continue working hard so that I do not turn into an ex international after two games.
“Then later, during the AFCON Qualifiers against Madagascar, I started ahead of Tonny Mawejje at Namboole, I was shocked to see my role model on the bench. Growing up, I admired Mawejje and the Kasule brothers (Umar and Noah). But I held my nerves i front of a packed Namboole. I commanded well in the middle and I was very vocal. Then Mawejje came on, I was not taken off and we started to compliment each other. It was priceless.”
Since then, I have been a mainstay on the team.
Aucho has represented Uganda Cranes at two AFCONs – 2017 in Gabon and 2019 in Egypt.
“Facing big stars like Mohamed Salah, Emmanuel Adebayor, Sadio Mane, Kalidou Koulibaly, Victor Wanyama, Ayew brothers and all those stars on Ghana team… is a big motivation. There is something inside you that says that you should not give them a chance to go past you, and when at fulltime, then you are at liberty to ask for their jersey.”
Harsh Treatment In Egypt
After impressing at 2019 AFCON, Aucho was signed by Egyptian Premier League outfit Misr El-Makkasa in July 2019 on a two-year contract.
The midfielder said that he went to AFCON to sell himself. “My agent Geoffrey Kayemba Solo was impressed with my first game at AFCON and he called me to inform me that he had already arrived at the tournament (Egypt) to discuss deals.”
“It was all rosy at the start,” the midfielder reflects. “But when the club was hit by financial crisis, things started to change. They resorted to paying Egyptians and we were neglected, we were four non-Egyptians there. The is a lot of racial discrimination there. It’s tough.”
“I went seven months without pay, and during that time, I was using savings back at home (Uganda) to see that I remain in Egypt. So, I had to report the case to FIFA, I was demanding the club 200,000 Dollars (Sh704m) including sign-on fee. With five games remaining, FIFA wrote to the club about the matter and asked them to pay my arrears. And later, the club was banned from signing players for the next season!
During that spell, Aucho says that he had started to receive many offers especially in Egypt and he was about to join Al-Ittihad (where Emmanuel Okwi was playing then) but the deal was blocked by his parent club.
He left El Makasa in July 2021 after playing 35 games.
“So, later, I moved to Young Africans (Tanzania) and left Egypt despite the fact that there were clubs offering twice as much as Young Africans put on table. I wanted a change in environment. I wanted to go where I would feel more appreciated.
“My lawyers contacted me when I was in Tanzania that the club (El Makasa) was willing to pay the arrears, they had no money so I was lenient and settled for 100,000 dollars (half of what he demanded.”
The Uganda Cranes Suspension
Aucho was dismissed from Uganda Cranes Camp for failure to adhere to the ‘National team Code of Conduct and FUFA Circular’ as the team prepared for two crucial fixtures against Malawi and Burkina Faso in March last year.
It was then reported that the midfielder used different means of Transport as opposed to those that had been organised for him to board, from Entebbe Airport to the team camp at Paradise Hotel in Kisasi where he did not report.
The incident attracted national attention, with many of Aucho’s sympathisers saying that the dismissal was political after he openly came out to show his love and support for National Unity Platform Boss Robert ‘Bobi Wine’ Kyagulanyi Ssentamu.
Aucho lifted the lid: “I remember on my way to Entebbe from Egypt, when I reached in Ethiopia, I called one of my friends in Kampala and I informed him that I was not feeling fine. And when I reached Entebbe Airport, it’s true they had sent someone to pick me but I had to first reach Hospital for a quick check up. I have my personal doctor who has a Clinic in Bweyogere and that’s where I went. I called an official on the National team and I explained to him the matter and he told me to keep him informed about any new developments. The Doctor told me that I had a Bacterial infection. Then at 6pm, I saw an email notification that I had been dismissed from camp! Those were just four hours I have been in the country! But remember there were some players who had spent four days in the country but had not yet reported to camp. But I just respected their (FUFA) decision.”