BY: DANITO NSUBUGA
The Azam Uganda premier league season is here, the wait is finally over and optimism for every football fan with an inner inclination to a big team is way up in the air. Villa, Vipers , URA and Onduparaka fans think that may be, this might be their year.
With defending champions KCCA FC appearing to be in capitulation by the sight of transfer business they have done, the exit of senior players and perhaps the law of marginal returns, we seem to be destined for a new league champion since 2014/15 having won it 4 times in 5 years.
If I was to be handed a one million dollar free bet to place on a potential winner, I would definitely place it on record champions SC Villa due to the fact that they have done some good signings most of whom from Express FC which assures head coach Wasswa Bbosa with a luxury of an already established chemistry between Mukasa Musa, Simon Sserunkuma, Mahad Yaya Kakooza and Allan Kyambadde. Villa have for the first time in the recent past tried to retain a huge chunk of last season’s squad and this will allow them continuity. However Villa have always been known for their own self destructive tendencies and it’s for this reason I am not banking on them.
URA FC too have done good business in the transfer market with the acquisition of experienced players like Brian Majwega, Siraje Ssentamu, Simon Okwi, Joseph Mpande, Patrick Mboowa, Charles Ssempa and Denis Kamanzi. This will be Ibrahim Kirya’s 1st full season in charge but the tax collectors lost their most prized asset in Feni Ali, they also score zero as regards the fan base, they last won the league 7 years ago and I don’t think they are ready for the challenge this season.
The weaknesses of the above mentioned clubs leave me with one seriously prepared contender and that’s Vipers SC, below are the reasons why I think they will win the league this season.
1.The strength in depth
Vipers boast of having the most in depth squad in the league, they are well covered in defense with Dan Birikwalira, Nico Wadada, Yayo Lutimba, Geoffrey Wasswa, Halid Lwaliwa, and Shafik Bakaki. An experienced midfield of Taddeo Lwanga, Deus Bukenya, Brian Nkuubi, Tom Masiko, Mike Sserumaga and Moses Waiswa. The front line will be led by the ever green Tonny Odur supported by Erisa Ssekisambu, Milton Karisa, Musa Mbayi and the young Frank Tumwesigye.
2.The Head coach, Miguel da Costa Duarte.
Early this year in March , they appointed new head coach Duarte Miguel da Costa a Portuguese national to replace the sacked Abdallah Mubiru. By the time he arrived, the team lacked direction, they were not winning football matches and coaches had lost the dressing room. He seems to be in charge now he has restored pride in the squad and this will be his first season in full charge.
3. The motivational factor.
Vipers SC are one of the few properly financed football clubs in the league, thanks to the huge wallet of owner Lawrence Mulindwa, this factor helped the coaching team to do their transfer business on time and these players are signed on good contracts which are paid on time.
4. The impressive home form.
Last season, Vipers managed to win 10 matches out of the possible 15 at home, only lost twice and drew 3. They conceded only 6 goals at home and scored 26 goals. Lweza’s demise will also be a big blessing in disguise because Vipers now remain the only local team in the area, this will also help improve on their fan base.
5. The openness
This season looks to be the most eagerly anticipated league in recent history, KCCA FC have won it for a massive 4 times in 5 years. Every pretender looks to have woken up to challenge them and everyone thinks this could be their year. But Vipers are the only team outside KCCA to have won it in 2014/15. They look to be the most prepared and destined to break KCCA’s dominance. They are consistent in squad retainment and motivation, they have the best facilities and they only need to improve their form away from home to be genuine contenders.
I believe Police Fc, Onduparaka FC, Bright stars FC and Kirinya Jinja S. S will be this season’s dark horses, they have prepared well and look to be well organised to make a perfect chasing park, you always never write Express FC off, they have the fan base but……..
THE RELEGATION BATTLE
New comers Masavu FC will definitely go down, they are the most disorganised team in the league, they let go of Allan Kabonge and appointed Alex Isabirye who left before even taking charge of a single training session, they changed ownership midway pre season and they are yet to unveil their squad for the 2017/18 season.
Mbarara city will have a huge task of contending with the long journey movements in the league, they are fairly well financed but they don’t enough experience to sustain in the league.
I have been hard pressed to chose the final candidate for relegation but Maroons FC have always struggled to stay in the topflight, last year’s relegation contenders UPDF FC and BUL will need to do a lot to stay up.