The 2007/2008 GTV Super League Promises Fireworks
The return of Hassan Mubiru (No.10) has given hope to the Red Eagles that this season's Super League title is theirs.

The 2007/2008 GTV Super League Promises Fireworks


The league officially kicked off on 2nd November 2007 with an opener between archrivals SC Villa and Express FC at Nakivubo stadium.

By Ramathan Kasozi
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First published: November 7, 2007


Highlights:


  • 'Exiles' return from Rwanda to spice up the league
  • URA, SCVilla, Express, KCC, Police remain the top candidates.

For the past two or three years, Uganda's soccer fraternity has shunned domestic league/national team engagements. However, the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) and GTV have unveiled an 8+ billion Uganda shillings package to fund the league. If this does not get Ugandans interested in their domestic fixtures, what will? The stream of the nation's football stars that defected to Rwanda for greener pastures and included Molly Bwekwaso, Francis Gonzaga, Emma Balyejjusa, Martin Muwanga, Kadogo Alimansi , Ibrahim Kongo, Kadenge Oscar, Joseph Kabagambe, etc has now stopped. In fact, it is now flowing in reverse. The above-mentioned stars are all back in Uganda to spice up the Super League. 

The league officially kicked off on 2nd November 2007 with an opener between archrivals SC Villa and Express FC at Nakivubo stadium. This came shortly after a charity shield (curtain raiser) involving Kakungulu Cup holders Express FC and current league champions URA FC. Ramathan Kasozi previews the season, taking a keen insight into the camps of the each team that is vying for the trophy.

URA FC

Besides being the defending champions, the 'tax collectors' indisputably remain the biggest bull in the kraal. Twice champions, they recently disposed some players off, including veterans David Kiwanuka, Peter Lwebuga and Fred Okello but are not becoming complacent. They made utmost use of the transfer window by acquiring several signings. Notable among them are; last year's league top scorer Hamis Kitagenda from KCC FC, Uganda Cranes' defender Musa Doka, Joram Katende from SC Villa, goalie Muhammad Musa, and former Police FC play maker Martin Muwanga from ATRACO, Rwanda.

With existing ammunition in the form of Daniel Wagaluka, Patrick Ochan, Phillip Obwiny, and Dr Sam Nadduli, the only worry for coach Video Anyau seems to be headache from deciding which players to use. However, the Kyambogo-based side will have to deal with other heavily congested fixtures ranging from the African Champions League, to the CECAFA Championship to win their third consecutive Super League title.

Sports Club Villa

Despite recently losing the inspirational trio of Joram Katende, Alex Ndugga and youngster Augustine Nsumba to URA , Police FC and the professional ranks in Iceland respectively, the return of Kenyan hitman Oscar Kadenge brings hope to this team. The only talk the club's faithful engage in these days is about the Kenyan and they are sure that this is the season to end their three-year-long trophy-less spell. The towering marksman absconded to Rwanda last season, complaining of his club bosses' failure to fulfill their side of his contract with them.

To show how desperate the 16 times Ugandan champions are, they have gone international, signing Nigerian mid-field workhorse, Solomon Kuchukwu and the Kenyan trio of John Okwemba, Wycliffe Jumba, and George Odari. Added to these are the promising crop of youngsters from the club's nursery in the form of Stephen Bengo, Michael Azira, Yusuf Juuko, Oscar Agaba and Jeremiah Ssebuyiira. Club tactician Asuman Lubowa's key task remains changing the mentality of his lads, who, because of their generally small physiques and inexperience, are lacking in confidence, as was very evident in the last season.

Express FC 

The Red Eagles experienced their worst campaign last season and narrowly survived confirming an appointment the relegation axe, although they bounced back to win the Kakungulu Cup (Uganda's equivalent of the Kings Cup in Spain or FA Cup in England). The Wankulukuku side looks totally different this season. They have been boosted by several signings - both coaching and playing. Cranes' veteran coach, Polly Ouma took up Sam Simbwa's shoes after the latter declined to renew his short contract and stint of working wonders at Wankuluku that included guiding the team to the Kakungulu Cup and avoiding relegation.

Ouma seems to be a believer in the aphorism 'Experience is the best teacher', as evidenced by his signings. Former prodigal sons Hassan Mubiru, Willy Kyambadde, and Francis Gonzaga return to guide the club to the league trophy they last won a decade ago . The players return to Wankuluku after short, unsuccessful stints in Denmark, Vietnam and Rwanda respectively. The trio is joined by other aging 'exiles' Phillip Ssozi and Molly Bwekwaso.

However, the Red Eagles will hope that history does not repeat itself. In the 2003 season , the club recruited massively to form a famous squad dubbed 'Uganda Cranes'. It comprised of the likes of Hassan Mubiru, Kefa Kisala, Ibrahim Buwembo, Ayew Mbo, Toto Songe, Bana Zidane, to mention but a few. Nonetheless, it ended up empty handed .

Police FC

Coach Sam Timbe 's cops lost one of their key players, Mike Sserumaga during the last transfer window. However, club manager Livingstone Lajan is confident that they can do without the former KB Lions striker. "Sserumaga is a very good player but Police FC has never depended on individuals. Only team work. So, we are more than ready to reclaim our trophy."

The 2005 champions will, once again, bank on the scoring prowess of Nooldin Juuko and Henry Kakooza, while Cranes' attack-minded right full back, Simeon Masaba and skipper David Iga command the rear.

KCC FC

A lot of changes have taken place at Lugogo within the last two months. Coach Moses Basena has replaced Jackson Mayanja, who threw in the towel at the end of the last season, citing lack of ambition by the club bosses. Leading striker Hamis Kitagenda and all rounder Jamil Kasita departed too. Perennial in-house wrangles ranging from players striking over non-payments of salaries to pressure from the club's fans are some of the acid tests that Basena will have to deal with.

Central defender, Sam Mubiru, skipper Nathan Mutenza, Anthony Bongole and youngster Owen Kasule are some of the players that Basena will pray get it right if the 'Kasasiro boys 'are to reclaim the trophy they last won in 1997.

Bunamwaya FC

FUFA President Lawrence Mulindwa's side finished in a respectable 6th position last season and with the acquisition of former Simba FC fast-rising youngster Derrick Walulya, Uganda's U20 striker Yuda Mugalu and Tony Odur, the team may be non-porous to opponents' strikers this season. The trio will add muscle to a squad which hitherto depended mostly on Ronald Muganga, Robert Kimuli, Farouk Osama and Peter Makanga. Declaring them trophy-winning material may appear over-ambitious but expect them to have a hand in determining who lifts it.

Simba SC

The best ammunition the army side has this season will not be the playing staff. It is newly signed tactician Sam Simbwa . The youthful, vocal, stylish coach (popularly referred to as 'Uganda's Mourinho') is one of the country's most celebrated tacticians. After stealing the show last season when he signed a contract with Express FC that expired in 60 days, he saved the team from relegation and guided it to Kakungulu Cup success. Instilling self-belief in the team is one of the spanners in the toolbox that he is expected to use, coupled with his 'no retreat, no surrender' attitude.

The former ATRACO manager has already secured the signatures of experienced goalie Ibrahim Kongo and left full back Peter Lwebuga to add more winning style to the team. Ibrahim Kongo will compete with the youthful Benjamin Ekusai for responsibilities between the goal posts, while Lwebuga shares his with an equally good and experienced Sula Walusimbi. It will take more than a miracle to see Simba taking the cup, but expect them to give the existing giants a run for their money.

Nalubaale FC

You would expect any team making its debut into top-flight football to make surviving relegation its first target. Not for this Buikwe-based side. The club's Publicity Secretary, Isaac Mukasa, who also works as a sports presenter with Voice of Africa radio clearly reveals that their primary target is nothing other than winning the Super League. "We have all that it takes to win the league. We are not mere participants, but serious competitors. Talk in Ugandan football of 'established' teams ended!"

His arguments are supported by the pre-season big signings of Emma Balyejjusa, Jamil Kasita, Mohammad Byansi, Sam Ochora and athletic veteran striker David 'Tilika' Kiwanuka. Despite the team's stable financial status from tycoon proprietor Sam Njuki's fat wallet, winning a Super League trophy might be a tall order. Nonetheless, expect Coach George Ssemogerere's boys to be a hard nut to crack.

Victors FC

Colonel Tushabe Bell's team, lost its leading striker Yuda Mugalu to Bunamwaya FC and went on to dispose off some of its key players including veteran midfielder Phillip Ssozi in what Coach Sula Kato dubbed 'cleaning the house'. However, Kato remains optimistic that he can beat any team this season. Declaring his team trophy-winning material is a tough call but this team has proved lethal to others before.

Boroboro Tigers

Last season, they entered the records as the first team from the northern part of Uganda for more than two decades to survive relegation on its debut. Once again, the Tigers' home support and intimidating den will be their 12th player when they go out to hunt. Very few teams survived in Lira, 'giants' Express being one of those mauled 3-0.

Midfield dynamo Dan Obote and striker Willy Odongo declined to renew their contracts. However, with Joseph Muluya, Jacob Otunga, Ogwal Egwedo and Francis Omara playing under the guidance of newly signed tactician Deo Serwadda, Boroboro might bite yet again. However going by the current rhetoric from each team in the league, the northerners will need to repeat their last season's heroics to stick around for longer.

Masaka Local Council FC

Masaka LCV Chairman Vincent Ssempijja's side finished in a respectable eighth position last season but like KCC, their in-house wrangles make them unpredictable.

Iganga Town Council.

Despite the fact that the Busoga region representatives are known for nurturing raw talent for bigger soccer teams in the country, it was just by the mercy of God that they survived the relegation axe last season. They had to battle up to the final day . Some notable players to have graduated from the dusty grounds of Iganga include former Cranes' and SC Villa's midfield ace, Hakim Magumba, KCC's Nathan Mutenza, Kadogo Alimansi, Umaru Kaluya, Emmanuel Balyejjusa, Johnson Bagoole and Cranes' wonder kid Daniel Wagaluka. Like Boroboro, Iganga's unusual home will be their secret weapon.

Maji FC

The National Water and Sewerage Corporation-sponsored team reached the finals of the Kakungulu Cup in the 2006 season. Since then, however, they have never found the rhythm and assistant coach Abbey Nassur concurs. "Last season we didn't live to expectations but with the league now 'monetorised', we are ready to die a little."

Winning the league is beyond their ability, but finishing in the middle of the table is a possibility

Maroons FC

'The prisoners' returned to top flight football last season after a 20-year stint in the First Division. Despite the acquisition of former Cranes' coach Mike Mutebi, they will need more than hard teamwork if they are to dodge returning to the First Division. As usual, Mutebi is expected to build a youthful side based on skill and discipline but fighting inexperience remains his lads' key huddle if they are to rub shoulders with the 'big' boys.

The rest of the newcomers (Biharwe FC, Edioffe FC and CRO FC).

Very little is known about these newcomers, but like most teams making their debut, surving relegation, though challenging, remains their primary target.

May the best team win.

By Ramathan Kasozi
more from author >>
First published: November 7, 2007
To learn more about Ultimate Media Consult go to www.ultimatemediaconsult.com.

Ramathan Kasozi is a member of Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd. . A graduate Journalist, Kasozi has more than 5 years experience reporting on sports in Uganda for different print and broadcast media houses.