Mamelodi Sundowns’ Mokwena tips Watenga to emulate Onyango at PSL champions

Ismail Watenga of Chippa United.Backpagepix.

Coach Rhulani Mokwena has said Uganda’s Ismail Watenga has the potential to emulate Denis Onyango’s success at Premier Soccer League champions Mamelodi Sundowns.

The former Sofapaka and Vipers SC goalkeeper was loaned to Chippa United and Mokwena believes he has a lot to learn from Masandawana’s current first-choice keeper.

The Chilli Boys signed the Cecafa Cup-winning goalkeeper in December 2020 after he had trained with the Brazilians.

"Watenga’s desire should be to follow in Onyango’s footsteps because he has got huge potential and hopefully he can be at the club [Mamelodi Sundowns] and play," Mokwena told Football256.

"As far as Onyango is concerned, it took him time to stamp his position at Mamelodi. We all remember that he went to Mpumalanga Black Aces and Bidvest Wits on loan before he came back and became Sundowns’ number one goalkeeper.

"He came back and he has been very successful, and maybe Watenga’s success lies in the journey of Onyango, and he will need to pick up a little bit more from what Onyango went through."

Although Watenga was seen as Onyango’s heir-apparent at the Cranes, he has rarely featured for the national side, with former KCCA FC custodian Charles Lukwago being preferred instead.

During the recent Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers – when Uganda were defeated by Algeria and drew 1-1 against Niger – the 27-year-old was not part of the squad.

Meanwhile, Mokwena explained why Watenga - a two-time Uganda Premier League winner - was allowed to join Chippa and pinpointed an area the goalkeeper has to improve in order to up his game.

"We like Watenga so much and we have tried to invest in him. We sent him out to Chippa to get more playing time," the coach added.

"He started reasonably well, but unfortunately, he did not get much playing time towards the end, but I believe that was due to the change of coaches at Chippa, which disturbed his momentum a little bit.

"Watenga is a very good goalkeeper with very good attributes, his agility is excellent, his speed and shot-stopping are very good, and maybe he only needs to improve when it comes to build-up play."

Mokwena has been in Uganda for a five-day visit and has spent the majority of his time with the KCCA.