The relegation battle is shaping up interestingly at the bottom half of the StarTimes Uganda Premier League. This is mainly because the likes of Maroons, Ndejje Lions and, Nyamityobora FC not only find themselves fighting for their lives, but amidst them is the much more reputable and fancied SC Villa as well.
Paidha Black Angels who have garnered a paltry 12 points from the 26 games played have already dropped. Their season has been marred by administrative issues and this has not helped their cause in their maiden season in the Ugandan top tier. The team’s management is at sixes and sevens while on-field reports of players striking did dull their start to the season and they’ve never quite recovered from that.
The Anthony Sekitto coached side have lost five of their 12 games playing at home, shipping in 16 goals and only scoring a measly nine in return. Now when you start losing home games with such ease and conceding for fun, then those are hallmarks of a relegation candidate
Enter Nyamityobora and where do you expect to get that much sought-after stability if even with four games to go, they’ve already had coaches such as James Odoch, Asaph Mwebaze and now currently with Alex Isabirye. Odoch’s record was bleak. He had managed seven games winning one, drawing once and losing five, a run that consigned them into an early flirt with relegation. Off the field, the club has been embroiled by ‘player versus club management’ wrangles due to unpaid salary arrears.
Players like John Wesley Kisakye, Ibrahim Massa, Patrick Gonahasa, David Kiiza and Ivan Mbowa were all suspended at one point on grounds of indiscipline. The current tactician however, has endured mixed fortunes since taking over but the team’s startling problem is lack of experience in the squad. Nyamityobora’s inability to add experienced players to their squad has definitely returned to haunt them.
For Ndejje Lions, winning twice (2-1 against Mbarara City and 1-0 against Paidha) in the first round of the League was a sign of good things to happen. They had a bad start in the league since they are playing in the top flight for the first time and do not have major players in the team that can orchestrate a mission to avoid relegation.
Some of their key players; such as left back, Isa Mubiru have been a little bit naïve while for many others, it’s their first time to play in the top flight league and this hasn’t helped matters one bit. Irrespective of that, they have tried to pick up as shown by that big 2-1 win against defending champions, Vipers, at the Arena of Vision. And most recently the 3-1 win over Nyamityobora, they have also picked up wins against Tooro United (4-3) and Maroons (1-0). But that alone is not enough, they’ve got to put more points on the log to climb out of the red zone they currently find themselves in.
Maroons FC have never looked the same since their long serving manager Asaph Mwebaze left the club. There was hope that they could build on their eventful 2017-2018 season where they finished 10th, but the club has endured early struggles in the new season. Although at first it seemed Mwebaze’s leaving was not going to be a problem with new coaches George Nsimbe and his then assistant David Obua expected to duly fill the void; the reality has been deflating.
Mwebaze was a fatherly figure as a coach. He knew how to handle the team’s players without rope-pulling. But Nsimbe is said to have come with a different attitude, he was going to be the boss and things were to be done his way. A handful of players did not like that. First and foremost, all the players have lost confidence and the change in coaching staff made it difficult to adopt to the new style and the philosophy from the old version. And there hasn’t been improvement game per game. All the problems come from goalkeeping and defence because the goals they mainly concede are due to defensive errors or lapses.
As for Uganda’s record league champions, this is a season they’ll want to forget in a rush. From competing at the other end of the log last season, tables drastically changed and now they find themselves trying all in their midst to avoid relegation. A far cry from nearly 12 months ago when they almost made it to the Stanbic Uganda Cup final. The season started in rather acrimonious circumstances with the mass exodus in the off season and for any manger coming in, it was always going to be difficult to take over a thread bare squad.
At a time when a seven-man interim committee chaired by Engineer William Nkemba and included great ‘historicals’ like former president Franco Mugabe and former treasurer Omar Mandela. Moses Basena, also a former player, failed miserably to show early signs of good things a head. SC Villa failed to register their first win of the season from their first nine game. At one point of the new season, SC Villa was 16th in a 16-team top tier league. They had virtually hit rock bottom! Basena resigned from his post.
Bamweyana on his part has huffed and puffed. Blowing hot and cold. Villa have registered five wins 12 draws and nine losses in there. And this has earned them 27 points, just three points away from safety. Not something the Jogoo faithful will fancy but they’ll definitely take it to avoid relegation. All in all, it’s been a topsy-turvy season at the bottom. And whoever gets to survive it has got to put in quite a shift in these remaining games to maintain their status quo as a top tier team for the 2019-2020 StarTimes Uganda Premier League