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KCCA raring to go again despite strange pre-season

By Shafic Kiyaga
KCCA FC duo Moses Aliro (L) and Gift Ali (R) | KCCA FC photo

KCCA were left with somewhat a sour mouth following the decision by FUFA to activate Article 18 of the competition regulations and declare rivals Vipers SC league champions for the 2019/20 season.

Not that the 13-time league winners were against what the regulations said, but they fancied their chances in the title chase despite being five points behind the leaders, many felt maybe the decision came a bit too early.

But they will have to shelve that feeling aside as there is a much broader challenge to be addressed when the 2020/21 season comes around.

The Kasasiro Boys will get the new season underway on Thursday, December 3 away to Soltilo Bright Stars at Kavumba and they will have a feel of what has become the ‘new normal’.

As there will be no warm welcome from those in the famous yellow to greet them for the new campaign.

KCCA find themselves in the midst of crossroads off the back of a pretty hard season.

They lost their league title and endured a rather unsuccessful campaign on the continent; something below the standards Mike Mutebi has set in his five years at the club.

Mutebi was shaken in pre-season with reports rife of bad blood with the club’s board who failed to reach a consensus on whether to let go of arguably the club’s most successful manager.

Muzamir Mutyaba and Mustafa Kizza left the club and top a list of high profile exits including Saddam Juma, Nicholas Kasozi, Jackson Nunda and the club’s top scorer last season Sulaiman ‘Mike’ Mutyaba who retired from football.

Goalkeeping coach Daniel Kiwanuka also jumped ship to rivals Express.

Besides that, there is a clatter of helpful developments at the club. Mutebi stays on to oversee another rebuild, while the club’s stadium will also get a facelift in a UGX 10 billion project to meet current international standards.

The question is whether Mutebi and KCCA can merge a measured freshening up of the squad while harnessing their charge for trophies and a continental campaign.

Despite scoring more goals than anyone else in the league and having the highest number of different scorers (level with Vipers), KCCA’s title defence was run aground due to their record away from Lugogo.

They suffered a worrying five defeats on the road. Away form is barely their greatest strength though – it is not anyone’s – but defeats like the manner of their losses to Tooro United and Mbarara City is suicidal.

Individual errors were another of the issues that cost them the title, with Mutebi also taking fault for his team selection and moments of madness, like failing to travel for the club’s game in Mbarara after arriving late.

However, focussing on that takes the light off the wider collective and systematic frailities to a team that has previously seemed so much in order.

Mutebi’s team still possess the ability to dominate any opponent, but teams are becoming increasingly confident of finding gaps within their tactical approach, which was rare in previous seasons.

KCCA has been a hive of transfer activity and have gone through a significant overhaul with 10 new players joining the club.

Marquee signings of Denis Iguma, Samson Kigozi, Brian Aheebwa, 2019 UPL top scorer Juma Balinya and Bright Anukani on loan from Proline provide an array of tactical innovations for Mutebi.  

The number and quality of options Mutebi has in his locker is the biggest advantage the Kasasiro Boys have over other rivals, and the new additions only make the squad deeper.  

Balinya, Aheebwa and Kigozi beef up the club’s attack, while Anukani’s creativity and industry in midfield fills the creative gap left by Allan Okello’s January departure.

In the absence of John Revita who is still out with a knee injury, Iguma is a more than a capable replacement.

Julius Poloto should be in the shape to rise up and carry the team, he looks to have overcome his injury struggles that have stalled his development. Pace, trickery and creativity are top of his arsenal that can create havoc for the opposition in a way few other players can.

KCCA will be a no-nonsense contender for the title given the balance in the squad. They will blow off teams with their creativity and quality.

Will they wrestle the title back? It is going to be a tough one but they will be odds on favourites to succeed.

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