Shortly before competitive football was put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic, new signing Muhammad Shaban was gradually working his way towards a return after recovering from a knee ligament injury that had kept him out since April 2019.
Although he was yet to make it onto the pitch under Fred Kajoba last season, the 22-year-old possesses positive vibes about the progress he has made thus far and feel re-energised to restart his career with flawless ignition. He spoke to Vipers Media in an exclusive interview for the first time since his signing.
1. How frustrating was it missing out an entire season because of injury?
It was painful and a lonely feeling seating out in the stands for the entire season watching your teammates playing. At times I felt like I could do something to help the team deliver victories but then again we couldn’t do much because of injury.
But I want to thank my teammates, the coaches and the club administration for the great work they have done, not forgetting the club doctor and the sponsors for always having our backs. It was a tough season but with the help of God, we were crowned champions (May Allah’s name be praised always). We now focus on the next stage that’s the Caf Champions League and I will not watch football from the stands InshAllah.
2. What was the lowest moment in your prolonged wait on the sidelines?
It has got to be not being able to play when I felt I could have changed the outcome of some results. But to be honest, playing last season was always going to be a bonus for me. The injury needed to heal properly. Good thing is that the storm is almost over and I am already focused on a restart for the 2020/21 season.
3. How long will it take you to hit full fitness?
I cannot really tell. But I know it won’t take me very long because I have been working overtime. I need a run out there to see how I will fare. The stage we are going to play at is tough and I need to be up there in terms of fitness – both physically and psychologically.
4. Have you had a word with new coach Fred Kajoba?
Yes, I have. He advised me to be patient and keep working hard. His words were also full of encouragement and he told me not to drop my shoulders because I still full career ahead of me. The most important thing, to him, was my recovery and then other things would follow.
5. Vipers won the title without your help. Does it make you feel bad?
No, no way! It is always a team first situation at Vipers like one motto; “One Team, One Dream.” I was happy because I am part of the team and dream. A season long injury is a set-back for every player but the club’s title victory also helped soothe some of my injury pains.
6. Fahad Bayo led the line admirably last season. Do you see yourself as the perfect foil for him upfront?
Every player has his own impact on the team. Bayo was in good form and my return will also add impetus upfront. Our partnership could be the best thing to ever happen at Kitende as long as we cooperate and work as a team.
7. What is your personal goal when the 2020-21 season starts?
I want the Top Scorer’s gong of the Uganda Premier League (UPL) and also help my team qualify for the group stages of the Caf Champions League, InshAllah.
8. How agonising was it to watch the 2019 Afcon tournament on TV having been a member of the Cranes squad at Afcon 2017?
Every player dreams to don the national stripe and play for their birth countries and for me it was the injury that ruled me out. Though I was very happy watching the boys playing good football and we deserved to go further than the round of 16. But InshAllah, next time better.
9. You have played at Onduparaka, KCCA and Raja Casablanca. Do you see your move at Vipers as one that can propel you back into the national team fold?
Yes, yes because I am working tirelessly to see that I come back as a different player not the previous one. I want to hit the ground running and get more playing time as soon as the 2020/21 football season kicks off.
10. What should the Venom fans expect of you?
The fans should forget the old me. There is a different Shaban coming. A better one who will play with more purpose and drive. I have kept them waiting because of injury but I am going entertain them. I promise to do my best for both club and country if I am recalled again, InshAllah.
Quick Glance At Shaban
Full names: Muhammad Shaban
Date of Birth: Jan 11th, 1998
Age: 22 years
Weight: 68 kgs
Team: Vipers SC
Jersey No: 28
Copyright 2020 Vipers Sports Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.viperssc.co.ug as the source.