Sinan RAJUB SENOGA
Uganda Cranes head coach Jonathan McKinstry believes Ugandan fans will like Hearts FC striker Uche Ikpeazu Mubiru when he plays for The Cranes.
Uche Ikpeazu Mubiru was one of the surprise inclusions in McKinstry’s preliminary squad that was meant to take on South Sudan in the AFCON Qualifiers in March.
In an interview with Edinburgh News, McKinstry sang praises of the gangly Hearts striker who was born to a Ugandan mother and a Nigerian father.
” The fans here are demanding. We’ve been to the last two African Cup of Nations and we have realistic ambitions to go to the World Cup in 2022. There are big expectations from the supporters,” McKinstry said,
“When Uche comes in, he is going to have to take someone’s shirt in order to get out there. When you do that, you have to prove yourself. Our belief in bringing him on board is that he has all of the skill sets to complement what we are trying to do here.
“You look at the clubs Uche has been at and supporters tend to warm to him very quickly. People seem to really enjoy what he brings to the team, his work ethic and commitment to the cause. I think the Ugandan supporters will love that.” He added.
“We have some players who can play that role, but I think Uche definitely adds to the competition. He is enthusiastic. From speaking to him, he is very eager to come out here and prove what he is capable of.” McKinstry said.
Ikpeazu Mubiru will have to wait a little long to make his Cranes debut after COVID-19 pandemic led to the postponement of the AFCON Qualifiers.
The 25 year old striker began his career at Reading in England in 2011 and went on to join Watford in 2013 where he spent three year before he officially left in 2016 to join Cambridge United.
” He has learned his trade in the football league in England, and now in Scotland. He’s come up against some touch opponent and I think that will stand him in good stead for international football.” McKinstry adds.
The Cranes tactician hinted on how he got a tip-off from an agent friend Justin Addo about Ikpeazu’s eligibility to play for Uganda Cranes
“He sent me a message at the beginning of the year, highlighting that Uche might have Ugandan parentage. As far as we were concerned, he was English-born of Nigerian descent because all the resources available to us only had those two countries listed under his name.
“We were told there was a Ugandan link there and that turns out to be his mother. Once we found that out, we were eager to get in touch with him and have a chat.”
McKinstry and his assistant, Alex McCarthy, believe Ikpeazu’s attributes can strengthen Uganda’s bid for a historic World Cup berth.
“Alex knows the lower leagues in England and had seen Uche playing for Cambridge United a couple of years ago. Uche had a number of good games for Hearts when he went there, one of them against Celtic, and he was being linked with quite a few clubs.
“When we discovered he was eligible, we knew who he was but he wasn’t getting as much game time. We knew him as a player but hadn’t looked at him specifically because there wasn’t a reason to until we discovered he could play for Uganda. Now we see him as a player who could help us.” He concluded.
Ikpeazu Mubiru joined Hearts in 2018 and has featured in 40 league games scoring five goals in return.
He expected to compete for the Uganda Cranes lead striker role with the likes of Fahad Bayo Aziz and Swedish based Alexis David Bbakka.
Full name : Karl Anthony Uchechukwu Mubiru Ikpeazu
Date of birth : 28 February 1995
Age : 25
Place of birth : Harrow, England
Height : 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Playing position : Forward
Current club : Heart of Midlothian (Scotland)
Shirt Number : 19
Reading FC Academy (2010–2011)
Clubs played for :
2011–2013 : Reading
2011–2012 : Didcot Town (loan)
2013–2016 : Watford
2014 : Crewe Alexandra (loan)
2014–2015 : Crewe Alexandra (loan)
2015 : Doncaster Rovers (loan)
2015 : Crewe Alexandra (loan)
2015 : Port Vale (loan)
2016 : Blackpool (loan)
2016–2018 : Cambridge United
2018– : Heart of Midlothian