Uganda Cranes and New Mexico United in Major League Soccer holding midfielder Micheal Azira has announced his retirement from international football Friday after five years of playing for his country.
The shock announcement by midfielder comes hot on the heels of his captain and teammate, Denis Onyango and Hassan Wasswa’s decision to call quits after 15 and 13 years with The Cranes respectively.
“Please accept this letter that I wish to retire from playing for the National football team effective April 14th 2021,” Azira said in a statement to Uganda FA president Moses Magogo.
He added: “Playing for the National team has been a honor and I am grateful for the opportunity you gave me to represent my country and my family”.
“I have enjoyed working with the Federation and playing for the National team. Playing in two African Cup on nations was one of the best moments with the cranes. These memories will always stay with me and they will be cherished always.
“I take this moment to thank all the coaches I have worked with over the years and I also thank our fans who always supported us at home and on the road. I wish you the best and I will continue to support the Cranes in anyway possible”.
The retirement of Azira, Onyango and Hassan Wasswa is the latest blow to the struggling Uganda Cranes who failed to qualify for a third successive Africa Cup of Nations finals.
Their Irish-born coach Johnathan McKinstry was suspended for a month after a string of disappointing results.
Midfielder Khalid Aucho was kicked out of the team prior to their last Nations Cup qualifying match against Malawi on March 27, for what the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) termed a breach of “the national team’s code of conduct.”
FUFA chief Moses Magogo told a press conference on Monday that there “is no player in this country who is indispensible.”
Who is Michael Azira
Azira was part of the team that qualified for the 2019 African Cup of Nations, where he faced off against Egypt’s Mohamed Salah and Senegal’s Sadio Mane.
Having only made his international debut in November 2016 when he was 29, Azira until his retirement had developed into a key member of the squad and in a recent interview with Goal.com said he wants to see the Cranes fly higher than they’ve ever done before by reaching the World Cup finals.
Apart from New Mexico United, Azira has also played for Chicago Fire, Seattle Sounders, Colorado Rapids, and Montreal Impact.