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Once nicknamed the ‘Ugandan Iniesta’, the Kyetume FC man now has to rebuild his career

This wasn’t the way things were supposed to work out for Nicholas Kasozi.

Once linked with a move to Gor Mahia, the cultured midfielder ultimately secured a move to Ugandan giants KCCA FC and appeared primed to become one of the most prominent players in his position in East Africa.

Now, having quit the Kampala heavyweights for the more modest surroundings of Kyetume FC, he has a rebuilding job on his hands.

Such a decline couldn’t have been predicted a few years ago, when the 25-year-old was first making a name for himself in his homeland.

Here was a player to get excited about.

Through his early days with Synergy FC, he demonstrated the poise in possession and the vision with the ball at his feet to pique the interest of domestic giants SC Villa.

He immediately stepped up to the plate at Villa during the 2017-18 season, and a move to KCCA—led my Mike Mutebi—was supposed to represent an immediate step up.

KCCA FC coach Mike Mutebi.

Admittedly, some were disappointed not to see ‘Picasso’ make the switch to Gor Mahia and test himself in the Kenyan Premier League, but KCCA still represented an ideal platform to one of Africa’s bigger leagues.

There were concerns that he might fail to live up to the expectations that came with his glitzy arrival—complete with Balenciaga trainers and a Mercedes Benz—but Kasozi soon proved the doubters wrong.

However, after an impressive first campaign, when he settled quickly into life at the title contenders and was arguably Uganda’s best local player during the first quarter of 2019, his problems started.

Injuries began to mount up during that tricky second season, and Kasozi unfortunately lost his focus while his professionalism dipped as his playing time reduced.

The one-time prodigy struggled to unseat Gift Ali in the base of Mutebi’s midfield, rumours of a fall-out with the coach followed, and ultimately, Kasozi appeared to burn his bridges with the club by going absent without leave in February 2020.

KCCA FC Musa Ramathan joins Kasozi Nicholas in celebration of his goal.

A year after being named the UPL’s Player of the Month, he appeared to have cast himself into the wilderness, and when Mutebi accused the midfielder of lacking the courage to fight for his place at KCCA, it was obvious that the end was nigh.

Clearly, there was no way back at KCCA, despite his technical and mental gifts, and now he must rebuild his career at Kyetume FC.

It will be a tricky road back to the top; even if Kasozi does demonstrate his previous form back in the heart of the park, will the region’s biggest clubs be willing to take a punt on a player who has had his fair share of injury and disciplinary issues?

Hopefully, Kasozi’s performances can one day tempt East Africa’s heavyweights to take a look.

Indeed, few players in the region can match his intelligence in possession, his energy in a box-to-box role and his ability to control a midfield when fit and firing.

It’s too soon to write off such a precocious talent who, at only 25, should still have his best years ahead of him.

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September 30, 2020
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