Uganda Premier League top scorer Juma Balinya has declared that he is going to give his all during the Cranes 2019 Afcon preparations to make sure he justifies his inclusion on Sebastien Desabre’s final 23-man-squad.
Balinya made the declaration while speaking at his appreciation party for scooping this year’s top scorer’s award, which was organised by family, friends and fellow players at Police FC.
“I felt let down after I failed to make the squad for the Tanzania game, but my coach and friends encouraged me to keep my head high as another opportunity will come,” Balinya said during his speech at the party.
“Tomorrow we start training for Afcon and I want to assure you that I will give it my all to make the final squad.”
He then went on to share the story behind his new found level of performance giving huge appreciation to his coach, Abdallah Mubiru for believing in him even when he had decided to quit. He also thanked his captain at Police Sadat Kyambadde and his childhood friends who now take the responsibility of managing him.
“At the start of the season, I had decided to call it quits from Ugandan football because I felt it could not offer anything anymore. I had agreed a deal to return to Djibouti and play there earning some money because it is what I needed,” Balinya said.
“But when coach heard about this, he called me numerous times trying to convince me to stay. But I will remember the statement where he said ‘the Balinya I know should not be playing in Djibouti’. That level of belief is what motivated me to return to training and keep going.”
Balinya then dedicated his golden boot gong to his mother as a Mothers’ Day gift for her.
“I want to thank my parents for the support they have shown. When I return home my father asks me how much have you scored, if I tell him two he says you should have scored four. But I will dedicate this gong to my mother for the support and because today is her day,” Balinya said before handing over the gong.
Uganda Cranes assistant coach Matia Lule joined many in thanking Balinya for his effort saying that it is fulfilling for him as a coach to see a boy from his local area playing for the national team and under his guidance.
“Balinya is a great player. I have watched him from a tender age up to now but it gives me much joy to see him on the national team where I am coach. And Juma will be on the plane to Egypt on merit not as a favour from me” Lule asserted.
Balinya will today join up with 19 other local based players for a full week of a residential training camp at the Kabira Country Club before Desabre names 26 players who will travel to United Arab Emirates for a pre-tournament camp and friendly games.