Fast forward to 2017, Ssimbwa’s midas touch of producing such caliber of players is evident as Sofapaka’s former Ugandan midfield enforcer Shaffique Batambuze who has since joined Singida United of Tanzania was briefly called up to the Uganda Cranes last year ahead of CHAN qualification.
Sopafapaka coach Sam Ssimbwa has heaped praise on the team’s talismanic striker and fellow countryman Umaru Kasumba, saying he wants to mold the player and many others into formidable footballers who can play anywhere in the world.
Ssimbwa said he noticed Kasumba’s talent in his native Uganda and especially when the player was turning out for Sports Club Villa and did not hesitate to incorporate him in the Batoto Ba Mungu squad soon after being hired by the team’s President Elly Kalekwa.
Ssimbwa said Kasumba has the potential to grow with Sofapaka and ultimately get a place in the Uganda national team, The Cranes.
“You see, the player is willing to learn which is very encouraging and as a coach you must be happy about this. It’s my philosophy to produce players who go ahead to play for their national teams,” said Ssimbwa, a respected coach both in Kenya and his native Uganda.
Ssimbwa’s trail of producing top notch players is well choreographed in his first stint as Sofapaka coach during the 2009-2010 season in which the team produced the highest number of players in the Kenyan national football team, Harambee Stars.
Among the players who donned the national team include Edgar “Fighter”Ochieng, Hilary Echesa, John “Leftie”Ndirangu, John Baraza, Wilson Obungu Oburu and Bob Mugalia who ditched his Congolese passport to turn out for Kenya.
Ssimbwa said the philosophy of getting the best from players runs in his blood, adding that it his wish to see to it that as many Kenyan and Ugandan players feature for their national teams for the simple reason that it will serve as the catalyst for them to attract the interest of bigger clubs in Europe.
“I’m always happy when I see the players perform since this will be for their own good. I want to leave a legacy in Kenya which will be worth emulating,”said Ssimbwa who has had several stints coaching Young Africans (Tanzania), Atraco (Rwanda) and Sports Club Villa (Uganda).
Besides Kasumba, other Ugandan players trying to establish themselves at Sofapaka include Ali Feni, Rodgers Aloro and Mathias Kigonya
Meanwhile, Ssimbwa has noted that Sofapaka were victims of ill luck during last weekend’s KPL match against Kariobangi Sharks which ended 0-0 at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos.
“Sharks are a good side and its little wonder they squeezed a point from us. They have talented players, at times tricky to beat, but the draw was not my wish because I wanted to reduce the gap between us and Gor Mahia. We created more chances in the second half but we were just unlucky. We still have nine matches to go. We have to continue fighting until the end. The title race is far from over.” said Ssimbwa.
Meshack Karani and the redhot Umar Kasumba were a threat for Sofapaka but just could not make the decisive breakthrough.
The single point for title chasing Sofapaka brings up their season’s points tally to 42, behind leaders Gor Mahia who also settled for a scoreless draw with Thika United at Thika sub county stadium last Sunday.
Sofapaka will be up against Kakamega Homeboyz in their next fixture on Saturday.
Like Sofapaka, Homeboyz will be seeking for an improved performance after being held to a barren draw by AFC Leopards last week.