Jimmy Kirunda, Ace Ex-Uganda Soccer Defender, Dies at age 70

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The late Kirunda. Image NTV screen capture.
 
Jimmy Kirunda, one of the best soccer players Uganda has produced is no more. The former captain of the national team, the Uganda Cranes, died May 25, in Uganda.
 
The pinnacle of Kirunda’s soccer career was when Uganda played for Africa’s highest trophy, the Africa Cup of Nations, on March 16, 1978. In that epic final the Cranes bowed to Ghana’s Black Stars 2-0. The Black Stars claimed the cup for the third time. Both of Ghana’s goals came from ace player Opoku Afriyie, the first when the Ugandan keeper Paul Ssali was drawn far from the goal-line.
 
Uganda has never again reached the final of this tournament. Kirunda captained the Cranes for many of the 14 years that he starred for the national team. Kirunda was on five Cranes teams that competed in the qualifying stages for the Cup of Nations and on three finals rounds. 
Although the Cranes never lifted up Africa’s grand trophy, they did win the prestigious Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa) cup in 1976 and 1977.
 
In club play, Kirunda was an ace defender on Express FC, KCCA FC, SC Villa, and Abu Dhabi Sports. He managed the national team between 1989 and 1996. His teammates referred to him as "dynamo."
 
Kirunda, who was 70, took his final bow on Monday. He was walking in the Bwaise, in Uganda, when witnesses reported seeing him suddenly collapse. He was declared dead soon after. 

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