Ndugwa rises from humble beginning to send Vipers closer to the continental cherry

Grace Lindsay Mbabazi

Born and bred in Bugonga a small village in Entebbe, Abraham Ndugwa has lived around football all his life.

Those who watched him at a young age can attest that his cousin Joshua Mungi was a better goal scorer during their time at the Entebbe young academy where it all began for the lanky forward, but one thing always stood out about Ndugwa, his hard work and natural flare on the ball.

His childhood coach Tamale Richard Pinto Kiwanuka revealed to Nile Post that Ndugwa that football flows through this young man’s veins.

“Ndugwa comes from a football family. Patrick Mungi his late uncle played for the national team, while his cousin Mungi is one of the best strikers I have coached but he quit football and is now a local musician in Entebbe. But even at that young age Ndugwa showed signs that he would go far in football. He is a born hard worker. I tried him in several positions but he always had an eye for goal”

What is surprising is that from Entebbe FC, Ndugwa had quit football for almost three years to concentrate on building a career in Civil Engineering.

After featuring for Entebbe FC in the lower division leagues, he left for fort portal in western Uganda, but the gods drove him back into the beautiful game, he landed at Masavu FC and this was his re-birth.

At Masavu he was pivotal in their promotion into the top tier, and despite being relegated in their first season, he did just enough to trigger a national team summon from new cranes coach Sebastien Desabre, but also attracted offers from top clubs in and out of Uganda.

Ndugwa came off the bench to score on his national team debut, a 3-1 win against Sao Tome Principle in a friendly game at the Mandela National Stadium on the 24th of March 2018.

To some he had arrived but not to him. He kept on working, until it all paid off.

Two months after Masavu had been sent back into the second tier league, the calm lad made the biggest move of his career, joining Uganda Premier league holders Vipers on a three-year deal.

This was a giant step in his career he revealed shortly after signing the dotted lines.

“This is a big step in my career. Am sad that I had to leave my home team Masavu but it was high time I sought a new challenge.”he took it on with both feet and indeed managed to win over the hearts of the Vipers faithful.

Despite the competition for places at the Kitende based side, Ndugwa did enough to convince the new coach Javier Martinez Espinoza for a place in the starting team.

He opened his goal account for Vipers in the Startimes Uganda premier league in acrobatic fashion.

Ndugwa scored a scorpion kick as Vipers came from behind to beat SC Villa 3-1 on the 24th of October at the Mandela National Stadium.

Fast fast forward to 5th December 2018, Ndugwa scores arguably the most important goal of his career in front of the home fans.

With the Ugandan league holders trailing Sudanese giants Al Merrikh 2-1 from the first leg of the CAF Champions league preliminary round in Khartoum, all the venoms needed was a 1-0 win to progress but their poor display was at odds with their ambition.

Vipers SC is going places on the continent

The first half was a shambolic display from the Martinez’s side, with Ndugwa, just like most of his teammates performing below par as it stayed goalless at the interval.

But the shirt 10’s moment to rise above the rest came inside the first minute of the resumption when he calmly controlled a cross from Geoffrey Wasswa, presenting himself with a one on one opportunity against the visiting shot stopper, whom he calmly beat to give the home side the victory that sent them through on away goals rule.

“This is the second most important goal of my career, (after the one on my cranes debut against Sao Tome Principle), Ndugwa intimated to NilePost.

“It was a special moment seeing my team through.”

Vipers will now face Algeria’s SC Constantine that edged Gambian outfit Gamtel 1-0 on aggregate.

This will be the last hurdle to beat as the they attempt to break into the gainful group stages of the biggest club tournament on the continent. Something only KCCA FC has done before.

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