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RONALD LUSULIRE: My UPL team of the decade

By Football256 Team
KCCA have been the most successful club this decade, winning five trophies | KCCA FC photo

Ugandan football has produced decent players over the years. The period 2010-2019 has witnessed a crop of outstanding and exciting players breakthrough, before going on to scale the heights of Ugandan football.

Many have given us memories we shall long hold onto, while others have enjoyed careers story-worthy.

Ronnie Lusulire takes a look at the individuals that have set the Uganda Premier League ablaze with their supreme show of talent, determination and consistency.

Here is my pick for the cream de-la-cream with of the decade.

Goalkeeper: Ismail Watenga (Vipers SC)

Watenga showed his goalkeeping prowess as a youngster at St. Marys SS, Kitende; the feeder side to the Vipers senior side. His brilliant goalkeeping skills, sharp reflexes and game reading were on show from a young age.

Little wonder that Watenga virtually walked straight into the Vipers team after he was promoted from the junior side.

Watenga was instrumental as Vipers scooped their second league triumph 2015 and again was of unparalleled significance as they won the Uganda Cup in 2016. Vipers were not able to retain the title in 2017 as they were defeated by rivals KCCA in the Uganda Cup finals in Bukedi, but he nevertheless played his part.

The Cranes coach Milutin Sredojevic ‘Micho’ named Watenga as Uganda Cranes first-choice goalkeeper for the 2016 African Nations Championships, a testament of his dominant performances in goal.

Right Back: Nicholas Wadada (Vipers SC)

Like Watenga, Wadada graduated to the Vipers senior team from the St. Mary’s Kitende school team. Full of energy and robust, he would then make the right-back position his own for six seasons. Wadada won the league trophy twice in 2016 and 2018 plus the Uganda Cup in 2016.

Wadada’s performances for Vipers made crowds call for his summon to the Cranes side, earning his debut in 2012 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup under Bobby Williamson before spending two years out of the national team, but later returned in 2014, at the CHAN under Milutin Sredejovic before becoming a mainstay in the Cranes set up.

Left Back: Joseph Ochaya (KCCA FC)

Joseph Ochaya was part of the Uganda U-20 side that defeated Ghana U-20 team at Nakivubo in 2011. Having played only a handful of games for KCCA, he would make a move to Asante Kotoko in Ghana. His career nearly hit a dead end at the Ghanian side before KCCA persuaded him to return home.

He had to wait almost a year before he would play his first game for the club. But a lack of defensive options meant that Coach Abdallah Mubiru played him at centre back. When Mike Mutebi replaced Mubiru, he shifted Ochaya to left wing-back where he would flourish.

Going on to top the assist charts in the 2015/2016 season as well as grab seven league goals as KCCA reclaimed the title from Vipers, scooping the player of the year award in 2016; the only defender to do that this decade.

Center Back: Timothy Awany (KCCA)    

When Awany was first introduced to top-flight football by Abdallah Mubiru, he had the potential of becoming a top defender, but he cost his team a number of times with calamitous errors.

In 2016, Awany was reborn under Mutebi. He seamlessly fitted into the three-man defensive set up, and the rest is history. Awany dominated strikers in the league and on the continent as KCCA went on to enjoy their most successful era in history.

Winning the league title back to back as well as guiding KCCA to their first league and cup double in 2017. He would also be a significant presence as the Kasasiro boys qualified for the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederations Cup group stages in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

His bow-out performance saw KCCA clinch the 2019 league trophy, their 13th in history before transferring to Israel side Ashdod.

Center Back: Murushid Juuko (SC Victoria University)

Sports Club Victoria University may be long gone from the football scene, but with Juuko amidst their ranks, they were a force to reckon with in Ugandan football.

Starting his career at Entebbe FC, Vipers swooped in for his signature in 2011, before surprisingly he again switched allegiance to Victoria University.

Juuko was a stalwart in the Victoria University side that nearly had league success in 2013, finishing second to eventual winners KCCA.

But still, he would deliver the side their first piece of silverware in 2012 as they won the Uganda Cup over his former side Vipers in Masindi.

Central Midfield: Taddeo Lwanga (Express / SC Villa / Vipers)

A knuckle hard but intelligent midfielder with a God-given talent for leadership. Taddeo Lwanga had his breakthrough with Express FC, given his debut in 2014 by his uncle Wasswa Bbosa who was Express head coach then.

He would captain the side before switching to rivals Villa going on to enjoy two great seasons with the record Champions captaining the side as well. Not fitting of his ambitions, he again switched to Vipers where he was again handed the captains armband.

He won the league title in 2017 in his first season with Vipers and would make it onto the final shortlist of player of the year before losing out to Muzamiru Mutyaba. Taddeo was one of the three local-based players to represent Uganda at the 2019 AFCON in Egypt.

Central Midfield: Muzamiru Mutyaba (KCCA)

Arguably one of the best creative midfielders in the land, Mutyaba seems to be able to pick out a killer pass with the utmost ease. Laced with brilliant ball control, great passing range and an inventors mind, Mutyaba is a beauty to watch.

While many on this list have come and gone, Mutyaba remains a constant. Starting his career at Maroons FC, before switching to Victoria University, where he was spotted by Mutebi and swayed KCCA’s way.

While he showed great promise at his first two clubs, it is at KCCA that he would almost fully realize his potential.

He has won three league titles with the Lugogo outfit, with his performances in 2017 earning him the MVP accolade in 2017.

Attacking midfield: Faruku Miya (Vipers SC)

Miya is also a graduate from Kitende, who went on to show great talents and put up legendary performances as Vipers sealed the 2015 league title.

He only played two seasons in Uganda’s top flight, but by the time he made his USD 400,000 move to Belgian side Standard Liege, he surely had left his mark on the Ugandan league. Fast, direct and dangerous around the 18-yard area, Miya dominated virtually every opponent he came up against.

Vipers 3-2 victory over Villa at Nakivubo, a game that saw them surely seal the 2015 triumph is a testament of Miya’s true quality.

Forward: Sulaiman ‘Mike’ Mutyaba (Vipers / KCCA)

Mike Mutyaba is considered the most talented player of his generation. But sadly, he may not quite hit the epitome of what his talent dictates, as he has had to suffer from fitness problems.

A natural gem, with the ability to go past any opponent with absolute ease, and a deadly eye for goal. Mutyaba brought Bunnamwaya FC (now Vipers SC) its first league success in 2009/2010 season.

He later had unimpressive stints at TP Mazembe and El-Meriiekh before he had to fight a nagging knee injury. He also featured for Express FC and once captained the side before being forced into early retirement for two years as he claimed to be frustrated by football.

He, however, was persuaded by Mutebi to return to the game, and he did that in style, netting ten goals as KCCA clinched the 2019 trophy. His performances also earned him a national team call up for the CHAN qualifier, featuring for the Cranes against Burundi for the first time in six years.

Forward: Robert Sentongo (URA)

Baptised the nickname ‘Mwenda’ which loosely translates as typical nine, Robert Ssentongo has made the business of hitting the back of the net look quite simple.

Despite not winning a league throughout the decade, Ssentongo has helped himself to three golden boots all coming at Uganda Revenue Authority. He topped scoring charts in 2011/12, 2014/15 and 2015/16 with 13, 15 and 18 goals respectively.

The diminutive striker can be considered as the stand out performer of the decade, despite not winning the MVP accolade throughout the decade.

Forward: Tony Odur (KCCA / Vipers) 

If there is anyone who almost matches Ssentongo’s goal-scoring tally throughout the decade, it is Tony Odur.

Odur is a combination of a typical orthodox striker and the support striker of the old days. He started the decade by winning the golden boot in 2010, as well as being voted the player of the year, as Vipers scooped the league crown in 2010.

He would repeat the same feat with KCCA, guiding the club to back to back league triumphs in 2012/13 and 2013/14 seasons respectively.  He again switched back to Vipers where he won them the 2017 league trophy.

Honourable Mentions.       

Benjamin Ochan, Hamza Muwonge, Halid Lwaliwa, Isaac Muleme, Herman Wasswa, Dan Mzee Sserunkuma, Feni Ali, Oscar Agaba, Isaac Kirabira, Brian Majwega, Geoffrey Sserunkuuma, Tom Masiko.

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