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UPL Season Preview: Can Bright Stars progress beyond a midtable party spoiler?

By Shafic Kiyaga

Bright Stars were one of the StarTimes Premier League‘s most forgettable sides last season. They were never really involved in a relegation scrap, nor did they ever threaten to get anywhere near the title challengers.

The Kawempe based side have now become an established topflight club and serious contenders in the top half side of the 16 team log. But they could be out to make more progress after a campaign where they finished eighth and enjoyed a run to the Uganda Cup finals.

But despite them enjoying their best season going beyond the 40 points mark since they gained promotion in 2013, the club called it time on their five-year relationship with their head coach Fred Kajoba after his contract ran out.

For starters, Kajoba was responsible for turning the side into a steady top half side. He proved himself to be tactically astute and his ability to keep his squad well-motivated over time convinced many of his man-management skills.

It may have ended disappointingly with that nerve-wracking shoot-out defeat to Proline FC in Masaka in the Stanbic Uganda Cup final, but there can be no doubt that it was the club’s most convincing season. So why change? The reason is based more on the desire by the club to shift to a more expansive playing style and philosophy.

A move from the champions Stadium in Mwererwe to Betway Muteesa II Stadium in Wankulukuku confirms the urge by the bosses to build a specific style and philosophy that encompasses youth development which probably Kajoba could not afford.

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Bright Stars skipper Nelson Ssenkatuka beats his Express marker at Mwererwe last seson / Bright Stars Image

The club is still coy on who is to take over from Kajoba with an official announcement expected soon but the club’s technical director Ian Mutenda can confirm that their next appointment is well in line with their set ambitions.

The past three seasons have followed an alarming pattern for Bright Stars, a great start followed by a slump. These dips in form haven’t landed them in real relegation danger yet, but it’s a trend that needs to be reversed if Bright Stars are to truly begin to compete for higher positions.

Last season, started with just a single defeat in their opening 10 matches, scoring 18 times catapulting them into early front runners. However, they failed to win any of the next 10 games losing five times in that period.

The away form needs to be addressed too. At home, they lost once conceding just 10 goals but sensationally lost eight games conceding double the goals they conceded at home.

Most Bright Stars supporters accept that incremental improvement would represent progress, so a more even season with an improvement on the pitiful away performances they were subjected to last term would leave the majority of fans happy and a repeated cup run wouldn’t go remiss either.

The transfer period hasn’t exactly been an earth-shattering one for the Kawempe based side, although the bulk of players from last season have stayed put. Despite a squall of rumours, the club has so far been quiet but belief is they are concluding a couple of free transfers.

Jamir Kaliisa (R) takes on Proline FC’s Ssaka Mpiima during the 2019 Stanbic Uganda Cup final in Masaka / Bright Stars Image

Bright Stars’ attack revolved mostly around the interplay and goal threat of captain Nelson Senkatuka last season and Brian Kayanja. Senkatuka the pacey centre-forward running down the channels, holding the ball up and linking play.

Whilst Kayanja, zipped around and threatened the opponents’ goal with his ability on the ball. There is quality elsewhere within the squad without question, most notably the influential presence of Augustine Kacancu. The midfielder was a revelation last season with top performances in midfield together with Methodious Jungu and Mahad Kakooza, there is enough depth.

The club have also earmarked youths development as a major aspect of their new set-up, Davis Ssekagya and Norman Odopio have been earmarked to make the step up to the senior team from the club’s U-19 side.

With Kokas Opejo leaving and left-back Dan Birikwalira’s loan deal lapsing, there is surely no need for serious re-investment and they can rely on the depth in the squad and the belief that the new coach can extract the best out of them.

For all their experience in the league, Bright stars cannot afford to get too comfortable. Failure to get a good start, and they could find themselves adrift.

Their campaign starts with a home game against Vipers, before trips to Express and Busoga United. A home game against newly-promoted Wakiso Giants follows a visit to Maroons wrapping up their first five league games.

One Response

  1. Thank for supporting Ugandan football na mutiima we need to build our own talent to the next level.

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