The Uganda Premier League 2018/2019 campaign reached its climax on Saturday, April, 4th as most teams put up a brilliant and excellent display on the final day of the season. But it functions as a handy break for me to step back and take a look at what happened, how the season progressed, who underperformed? The sides that overperformed, which players stood out, etcetera. Everything will be answered below.
KCCA FC were officially crowned champions on a day they thumped Maroons 6-1 at the StarTimes Stadium. It was title number 13 for the ‘Kasasiro Boys’, five in seven years and three for Mike Mutebi in his four-year tenure at Lugogo.
This season didn’t come any easy for KCCA FC as everyone expected but, they managed to stay on top of their game especially when their rivals, Vipers repeatedly hampered their own title challenge with poor performances.
The Champions also had some average displays of their own but thanks to most of the players who many a time put in a shift for the team when it mattered most. Sixty-six points and 61 goals scored clearly shows the efforts from the crop of players Mutebi has at his disposal.
Mike Mutyaba has been arguably one of the best players for KCCA FC this season, with 10 goals to his name and has been directly involved in most crucial games for the team until he got injured.
Patrick Kaddu transitioned from being a player stationed in the box to becoming a player who frequently gets involved with build-up play. A prolific goal scorer in his right, his confidence has massively grown; 14 goals this season is a testimony to that.
We all know that good defenses win you championships, club skipper, Timothy Awany has been at the heart of the defense for KCCA FC this season. He has brought back that stability, composure, and maturity at the back line and filled the void for the likes of Filbert Obenchan, Hassan Musana, and Peter Magambo.
Mustafa Kiiza, “the assist king”, flourished on the left flank and not forgetting, Nicholas Kasozi has had stellar performances as a deep-lying midfielder, sometimes venturing forward with seeming ease.
SC Villa finished 10 points behind champions vipers in the 2017/2018 season. They were a monstrous defensive force, conceding just 12 times throughout that campaign. But this season, they have been too human and shambolic and the record league champions have this time round conceded 22 goals and losing eight times doubling their defeats compared to the previous season.
Villa’s convincing victories came against Vipers (3-1) at the St. Mary’s Stadium and their final game of the season against Nyamitobora FC (6-1) to give the Joogos faithful something little to smile over. The million-dollar question posed to the Joogo right now is, ‘How do they bring back their glory days?’ Personally, I feel that it’s far from reality for Uganda’s most successful club. Until they get their house in order, darker days await SC Villa in the future.
The relegated teams
Paidha Black Angels, Ndejje Lions and Nyamityobora FC gained promotion from the FUFA Big League last year but, in their maiden season in the Uganda Premier League, they found themselves battling relegation as early as the first half of the season. For Paidha and Nyamityobora, from not having their own home grounds at the start to lack of squad depth and poor-quality players – their destinies were clearly inscribed on the wall.
Nyamityobora FC was at some point in the season made to pay fees of up to the tune of UGX650,000 per game to access Kakyeka Stadium in Mbarara for their home games. And the big question was always; For how long would Immanuel Ben Misagga remain in that position of forking out money like that?
Fortunately, they came to good terms with Mbarara City Football Club and agreed to keep sharing the same ground until they could have their own. That said, Nyamityobora FC have been the worst team in the UPL this season. Conceding 57 times, and only managing four wins throughout the entire campaign with a paltry 17 points collected. That’s embarrassing, right?!
URA FC have been the far better side this season. The team didn’t start on the same page with the likes of KCCA FC, Vipers FC, Express FC and Mbarara City FC as they were slow off the blocks. In terms of defending coupled with their good away record (didn’t lose any game away from home), they were simply superb.
Sam Ssimbwa who helped the tax collectors to finish ninth last season knew his full-time job at URA FC wouldn’t come easy. He’s been in the media for being on the wrong side of the law. That didn’t stop him from working jointly with the club management to assemble a more resilient, aggressive, solid and an attacking football team that left most of their opponents in their wake.
The attacking trio of Mathew Odongo, Robert Omunuku and Vitalis Tabu that was signed in the summer to help in finding goals has been ineffective and inconsistent, they were later joined by Cromwell Rwothomio in January. That left all the strings to be pulled by skipper Shafik Kagimu, who is their fulcrum of offence as the attacking midfielder seeing that the team was built around his brilliance this season.
The tax collectors began the season with no ideal goalkeeper after the departure of Mathias Muwanga but James Alitho has been ‘Mr Safe Hands’ and a hard nut to crack. No doubt he was credibly named best goal keeper of the season after keeping 15 cleansheets.
I would be mean if I never mentioned Tooro United and Mbarara City as my other good performers of the season. Tooro United, formerly Soana FC, survived a scare last season when the team flirted with relegation but now that seems like a long time ago to a club that seems to be building its powerful brand in Buhinga.
After being allowed to shift away from multiple playing grounds back to their home town in Buhinga, the stadium has been a stomping ground for most of the opposition teams. KCCA FC failed to win there twice, one of those times they were eliminated from the Stanbic Uganda Cup. Vipers, Mbarara City and Onduparaka FC, URA, all failed to assert themselves there.
The team needed different reinforcements in all departments to be able to compete with the giants of the league. Wasswa Bbosa was also given the authority to hire and fire at the beginning of the campaign. He brought in new players in the offensive positions, the likes of George Senkaaba, Alex Semuyaba and Godfrey Lwesibawa.
But interestingly Allan Kayiwa has been the focal point for Tooro United scoring 10 goals and helping the team to a top-four finish, their best position in the top flight since they were promoted in 2013.
Lastly, Mbarara City FC were the only team that failed to win a single game away from home in the 2017/2018 season, and was branded as the “poor performer” of the season, they survived relegation then but regrouped and managed to come back stronger as one piece.
With Charles Livingstone Mbabazi at the wheel, they retained most of their influential players and added in few key figures who have been magnificent additions to the squad. The likes of Ivan Eyam (his intelligence and instincts on the ball have helped him become a better goal scorer for the club), Jude Semugabi as well who flourished in every position he was played in.
But all credit goes to Paul Mucureezi, the former KCCA FC player who is also a son of Ankole region and one of the great footballers the region has produced. He created the most assists in the league this season more than any player.
Mbarara City’s skipper Hilary Mukundane who was also their rock-solid defender justifiably propelled him into the debate of best defender in the Uganda Premier League while pushing them to the 3rd position for most parts of the season. But they later slipped up and allowed URA FC and Tooro United FC to knock them off their perch. The suspension of Ali Kimera after the defeat 2-1 to SC Villa and allegations to have been involved in matching fixing plus the unexpected injury to Mukundane cost the team the top four finish.