Traditional giants Express and SC Villa have their names written in local football folklore. Bar the current situation, the two sides were once the most celebrated teams in the country but hard times from administration ruins to financial predicaments seemed to have crippled both to attract a handful of fans.
The two arch-rivals will have to put everything behind them on Thursday if they are to avoid a looming relegation dog fight in the StarTimes Uganda Premier League.
Villa have had a deficient season managing five wins, 11 draws and nine losses from 25 games and are just two points ahead of 14th placed Ndejje Lions with four games to go.
The abhorrent situation could certainly get worse although Villa coach Douglas Bamweyana is hopeful Bashir Mutanda who didn’t start in their last league win over Mbarara City should be able to lead the line again.
Express, on the other hand, have also not had a smooth run, since George Ssimwogerere’s return. The Red Eagles have blown hot and cold but they too are in a buoyant mood having beat Paidha 2-0 at home in their last league game. Ssimwogerere is determined to grab a top-eight finish beginning with winning Thursday’s fixture.
“We have four games to go and for me am looking at a top 8 finish because it will help us prepare for next season. The players know what is at stake come Thursday,” the former club captain said in a post-match press conference.
“We need to start with a win to have the momentum for the remaining fixtures of which two of them are home” Ssimwogerere explained.
Eric Kambale’s return is a huge boost for Express, the presence of strikers Tony Odur and Brian Umony will certainly spice up the hosts’ attack.
The towering tactician had no kind words for the fans who are fond of verbally attacking players when the team is on the back foot.
“As for the fans, we need them more than ever but they have to realize attacking officials and players verbally won’t help.”
“They have to encourage the players and not the other way round,” a visibly angry Ssimwogerere said.
Express sit 10th and have a six-point advantage over Villa. A win for the Red Eagles will not move them an inch on the 16 team log but will close the four-point gap with ninth-placed Kirinya Jinja SS. For the visitors, anything other than a win will keep them in the red zone.