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SUPL: Still favourites, yet it won’t be all about Vipers

By Clive Kyazze
Vipers SC players celebrate their 2021/2022 league triumph at Kitende | UPL Image

Social media and mainly Twitter fanatics of local football have already dived into the hype game ahead of the new StarTimes Uganda Premier League that kicks off on Friday.

Holders Vipers SC will host Soltilo Bright Stars at St Mary’s Stadium in Kitende as they try to defend the league title.

For the last five or six seasons, the UPL has always been a two-horse race (KCCA and Vipers), bar the one or two occasions where a third team squeezed themselves into the equation.

Last season was unprecedented as the Venoms won the league title by a staggering 18-point difference, but, not because they were too strong for the opposition.

The chasing pack in KCCA were too generous and always gifted the opposition with too much ease.

Much as I believe Vipers will win the league title again, history doesn’t favour them, they have never defended the league title. That comes with it’s own pressure.

They also have CAF interclub issues to deal with, the pressure to qualify for the group stage of the CAF Champions League or CAF Confederations Cup might distract them a bit. They will have decent competition.

KCCA FC manager Morley Byekwaso (in white) mobbed by his players after their winner against UPDF at Lugogo last season | Bata Images

For the last decade, KCCA have made winning the league title their birthright, but they have gone three seasons without one.

Imagine a fourth without a league with their adventurous spending in the market, that will turn heads at Lugogo.

Morley Byekwaso and his team must win games to save the jobs, but the fans are also demanding more.

They want to be entertained. Is he ready to compromise his cagey safety-first approach?

But he has everything he needs at his disposal to bring the league title back to Lugogo and the backing of those who make the decisions. But the big question is; for how long?

BUL celebrate with the Uganda Cup trophy after defeating Vipers 3-1 in Masindi | Red Rhino Image

It is not by mistake that BUL are Stanbic Uganda Cup winners, their maiden major silverware, it is a team that has been knocking on the door for some time.

Alex Isabirye might not have household names but, he has a unit of players who understand the importance of playing as a team.

He also knows how to get results, especially off the big boys, put that together with support and funding from his bosses and you have a title contender.

Gadaffi FC’s Faizal Muwawu tries a bicycle kick against Busoga United at the Gadaffi Arena in Jinja last season / Sanyuka FC Image

Gaddafi, Modern Gaddafi or Modern are not supposed to be in this discussion, but listening to their chairman Edrine Ocheng speak, they are too hot to be taken lightly.

“Our target is to win the league or finish second,” Ochieng once said during a sports talk show on one of the Jinja FM radio stations.

He followed that up by going on a spending spree that landed Waswa Bossa and his loyal soldiers.

With the determination of Ochieng and the fact that Bossa knows his way around the UPL, Modern are likely to be a problem.

URA and Express are supposed to be in this equation, but with the recent departures and acquisitions, they look like teams in transition.

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