By Rob Deyzel

Bobby Williamson (photo) is the manager of Uganda Cranes national team. Bobby is a Scot by birth having been born in Glasgow. He previously played for the likes of Glasgow rangers and West Brom before his career was cut short by injury. This led Bobby into management where he was in charge at Kilmarnock, where he led
the team as winners of the Scottish FA cup. Later he took over at Hibernian in the Scottish premier league and Plymouth in what is now the Championship. A spell at Chester city was followed by his appointment as the manager of the Uganda national team on the 19th August 2008. So far Uganda has won two CECAFA tournaments under his management and has recently defeated Angola 3-0 in Kampala in the opening game of African cup of nation’s qualifier.

We met at a local bar to discuss all things football.

Q. “So Bobby how do you feel about Uganda ? The people, culture etc?”

A. “Well I love the weather, the climate is fantastic. The people are so welcoming, but it certainly was a culture shock when I first arrived. There is a lot of poverty around, yet people are happy. They have great family values, you see children helping out fetching water, and they appreciate what they have.”

Q. “How would you rate your success so far with Uganda Cranes?”

A. “It’s for other people to judge me. If people say I am doing good or bad it’s up to them, for me I just do my best. The players have been fantastic, they really want to progress and improve their game, and they appreciate I want to help them. But on success, look at Fabio Capello, he went to the world cup is very successful, loses one game and then everyone wants him sacked. He has worked in so many countries, has so much knowledge, losing one game doesn’t make you a bad manager!”

Q. “Do you find it strange the way British fans react to a loss such as England ’s in the world cup?”

A. “Well it’s not really the fans reaction it’s the journalists. The pressure the journalists put is massive. Look at Capello’s record before the world cup and how good it was. The pressure the Journalists put on the manger and the players is one reason why teams fail.”

Q. “So what are your goals and objective you want to achieve with Uganda Cranes?”

A. “I want to lead Uganda to the world cup in 2014. I want to get to the African cup of nations 2012 because we have not done so since 1978. We have won two CECAFA’s since I have been here. We have been progressive as a team. Ugandan footballers are very talented.”

Q.”Do you see a reason why a country with a population of 30 million only has one player, David Obua playing in a decent league in Europe ?”

A. “Yeah visas! It’s definitely a big problem. I tried to get a player out to Scotland last month. Craig Brown (manager of Motherwell in Scottish Premier) is a very close friend of mine, he asked if I could help him out and I recommended him a right back from the Cranes, but the visa was declined. It’s a shame because these players deserve to have a chance in some of the bigger leagues and to be earning good money.”

Q. “Does it make a big difference how high Uganda is in the FIFA rankings to players getting visa’s abroad?”

A. “Yes most definitely. We need the players to keep working hard, and if they do that we go up the rankings and they will start getting those work permits.”

Q. “Your victory against Angola in African cup of nation’s qualifier. Was it your biggest win as Uganda manager?”

A. “Yes it was. But we still have a big challenge with rest of the games that are coming up. We are playing Kenya next month, and I am looking forward to it. I can’t wait. I hope we manage to get something out of that game, and if we do get something out of this game, we will have a very good chance of progressing.”

Q. “What made you take the Uganda job?”

A. “I wanted to be involved in football. To be honest I had not really thought about Africa . But as a football coach the world is your horizon, I am fully qualified, I have all my footballing qualifications. I thought about managing in America , Canada , I thought about Europe and Australia , everywhere but hadn’t really considered Africa . I was out of football for a long time and my agent contacted me with regards the Uganda job. He got me the interview and I knew I had to impress them, although after the interview I initially turned the job down. The reasons were, I hadn’t seen enough to impress me and what I had seen hadn’t impressed me at all. But I hung around, in fact my flight was cancelled for some reason and had to stay another day. So I decided to have a look around and met a few people and changed my mind! It was the best decision I had ever made.”

Q. “How do rate the success of the world cup in South Africa in 2010?”

A. “I thought it was fantastic. South Africa did a fantastic job hosting the world cup. All the stadiums were finished on time. The running seemed good and the fans turned up. The only thing is the vuvuzela! I don’t like them I must admit. You know it’s an African thing. I have been watching Uganda football a number of years and it only takes one person to turn up with one of those things and the noise drowns out anything else. It’s a noise! So imagine in South Africa when there would be 2000 of those things! In fact communication is a problem. Even against Angola I struggled to communicate with my players, and it’s hard enough for them to understand me, with me being Scottish!”

Q. “So who can Uganda aspire after?”

A. “Ghana. Uganda can aspire after Ghana in every aspect including administration. Last year we played them in a friendly and only lost 2-1. In fact before the game the Ghanaians were saying, “why we playing a team like Uganda ?” I said to them lets see how the game goes, if you win 5 or 6 nil then fair enough, but in fact it was a very close game. And to be fair Ghana were very complementary after the game. We want to keep playing against the best teams in Africa . I want to test myself, I want to test the players against better opposition.”

Q. “When I went to the game against Angola I know some fans were put off by the 20,000 Ugandan shilling price. ($10) Should the federation lower the price?”

A. “Most definitely. I would rather have a full stadium with people playing a sensible price, then a half empty stadium with people having played a stupid price. In fact we had a recent meeting to discuss these kinds of points and we asked the press what we can do to improve everything. And one of the points was that a lot of people were turned away because of the high price. Its one of the things we want to improve for the next game. But I have to say FUFA is so more transparent then it was when I first started.”

Q. “So your view on the press?”

A. “There is no sense to the press. I just want to get on with the job at hand, but they make it so difficult. That’s why England did so badly at the world cup. The pressure they pile on the staff and the players is just ridiculous. The pressure is immense and the press certainly don’t help. Look at Capello, they said how good he was for bringing discipline to the England team, then they say maybe he has brought too much discipline to the team! You can’t win with the press! I find it disturbing and offensive that the press can advocate the firing of a manager. I would fight to the end to keep my job. You know I try my best to accommodate the press, and I appreciate they have to sell newspapers and have deadlines to meet, but I don’t appreciate that kind of journalism.”

Q. “Is the Scottish premier league still a strong league?”

A. “Yes it’s still a strong league. Rangers and Celtic will always come out on top because they have the most supporters and money. There are a lot of good football players still in Scotland . The league doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. The idea of Celtic and Rangers going to English premier league is stupid. They are Scottish teams and should stay in Scotland . Its always about money, football is about money. It’s a shame football has become about money. You look at teams in the EPL who are at the bottom of the league and get low crowds, and yet they get more money as a club than teams winning the SPL. But I think players are starting to see that they can earn more money in the EPL with a mediocre team, but that they can earn less money in SPL but win trophies. I know I would rather win more trophies. Why go to EPL with a struggling team and earn $30 million when you can play for the best teams in SPL earn $15 million but win things!”

Q.  “So would any team or country sway you away from Uganda Cranes?”

A. “I am focused I what I am trying to do with Uganda . If something comes up then I would think about it but I tend not to be swayed by it. Its something I have always believed in as a player and a manager that I don’t get caught up in the hypotheticals I don’t have my whole life planned out. I like to wait and see. I would like to stay here and take this country to the world cup, I want to take this team to the African cup of nations, I want to win the African cup of nations with Uganda .”

Q. “Soccer in America . Do you think the increasing popularity of soccer in America is good for the game?”

A. “It has to be good for the game, although I wish it was more popular in America . The MLS has some fantastic football players. I saw USA play in the world cup and the confederation cup and was impressed. They have some great football players. Lets hope the popularity of soccer in America keeps on increasing.”

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