The 2020/21 StarTimes Uganda Premier League has preceded an unprecedented period, and has produced the expected highs and lows, ugly controversies and discernible moments of brilliance.
At this stage, we are enjoying an exciting three horse race between Express FC, URA FC and defending champions Vipers SC that produces exciting twists with every game week.
Express leads the way in a close race on 57 points, a point ahead of former leaders URA and a further two ahead of the champions with four games to play.
With under a month to play, individuals can do as much to help their teams achieve their objectives, but there is little they can do to change perceptions of their overall performance this season.
As the season prepares to resume after a two-week break, it seems an opportune time for Football256 writers to pick their Player of the season.
Shafic Kiyaga – Shafik Kagimu (URA FC); the leader, the game changer, the architect
There have been numerous stories to write home about; redemption, rejuvenation and even individual development this season, making it hard to make a final choice.
I was thinking about Yunus Ssentamu for Vipers, Eric Kambale has had a great season too, Brian Muluuli has been unearthed, from guiding Kitara FC to the top division, to scoring regularly for Police FC.
If the vote was to come in March, Police’s Johnson Odong would have got a lot of votes, while Bright Stars’ Sam Ssekamatte should have taken it in April, but I cannot think past Shafik Kagimu.
In a season where URA has once again challenged full heartedly for the title, it is hard to think of anyone who has had more influence than their captain.
Kagimu is a brilliant player who continues to thrive at the highest level in the country, and we are short of players who are as consistent.
He takes control of the game, dictates URA’s tempo and is not even disturbed by the environment around, playing the game the best way, he knows how.
A team player, his teammates adore him and definitely love to play around him, simply because he is the best creator in the Uganda Premier League. Kagimu’s super power is to provide chances and bring everyone around him into play.
He has produced another imperious, incredible and dominant season. Even more impressively, he has added goals to his game.
The URA skipper has produced 15 of the team’s 41 goals this season – nine goals and six assists in 24 league appearances. Kagimu has been the game changer, the match winner, the leader; he deserves it.
Brian Aheebwa – Ssentamu’s season at Vipers a success
When Yunus Ssentamu returned for the Ugandan Premier League reigning champions Vipers SC, few people tipped him to have a successful season.
However, the 26-year-old striker went on to prove doubters wrong by scoring goals for his side match after the other.
Despite starting his second stint at Vipers after five games into the season, Ssentamu is leading the scoring charts with 16 goals. His fine form has seen him return to the national team set up.
He kicked off his second stint at Vipers in style by scoring a brace during Vipers 7-0 win against MYDA in February at St. Mary’s Stadium Kitende and since then he has not looked back.
One of his memorable goals is the 83rd minute strike against UPDF that earned Vipers three points at St. Mary’s Stadium Kitende.
He had left Vipers eight years ago after scoring six goals in the 34 matches played but his return proves a more successful one.
Should Vipers defend the Uganda Premier League title, Ssentamu’s efforts will always be remembered. The Venoms are currently third on the StarTimes Uganda Premier League log with 56 points two below table leaders Express FC.
Due to his successful return and what he did for Vipers this season, Sentamu is a right candidate for the Player of the season.
Baron Kironde – Kagimu’s efficiency has influenced URA’s title chase
URA captain Kagimu for me has been the best player in the StarTimes Uganda Premier League (UPL) this season.
Kagimu has not only been hugely instrumental in URA’s attacking set up, but also pivotal to Sam Ssimbwa’s sophisticated plans.
Kagimu’s stats look undeniably attractive, he has scored nine goals and assisted six times from the midfield.
Leading by example, Kagimu has captained the Tax Collectors to within reach of the title. URA with 57 points are sitting just a point below league leaders Express FC.
The highly efficient midfielder has been productively present for 24 out of the total 26 times he has featured for URA this season. In the 2020/21 UPL season, Kagimu for URA has been highly influential, efficient and plainly an excellent performer.
Allan Damba – Risen from his ruins to being league’s best: Yunus Ssentamu anyone?
What does a 16-goal return in 21 appearances sound like? Great? Excellent? Sensational? You can highlight all the adjectives and they will not exhaust Ssentamu’s influence at Kitende.
To draw more context to what a superb season this man has had, you have to first of all draw back to how awful his previous seasons have been and relate to the turn-around he has had.
The 26-year-old left for international trade after hugely impressing at the 2014 CHAN tournament in South Africa where he bagged three goals.
He left for African giants As Vita with huge potential and expectations in equal measure. He did not live up to the billing there before he made quiet stints at SC Sfaxien, FC IIves and Albania’s FK Tirana.
His January 2021 return to his boyhood club was not highly anticipated. In fact, no one expected the once “next big thing” to rise again to the podium. But here we are, talking about the league’s top scorer and although not heads and shoulders above the rest, a should-be player of the season.
His influence for the defending champions: for a team with so much quality in depth, we should not be having a runaway standout player for them, but boy oh boy, Ssentamu has carried them since the return.
His has pounced with deciders and point-clinchers. The most memorable one though it savoured just a single point, that superb late strike against URA SC will be part of Vipers’ fans memories for long.
He has dragged them when the rest chose to “take a break” or not show up at all. He has been available for head coach Fred Kajoba at all times.
With four games to play, Vipers are currently third with 56 points and the biggest chunk of this feat is attributed to the shirt 12.