The Ups and Downs of the 2006/2007 Super League
Stiff competition observed.
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First published: September 8, 2007
- Stiff competition observed
- Express FC and Boroboro relegation dogfight takes center stage.
- Absence of sponsors very evident.
- Patrick Ochan posts the season of his life
Uganda Revenue Authority Football Club are the 2007 Uganda Super League champions for the second time in the club's history while the likes of Mbale Heroes, City Lads, Masindi FC and Mukono FC will taste life in the first division next season after being hit by the relegation axe. As he reviews the 2007 season, Kasozi Ramathan reports that though few of the Red Eagles' fans would kindly admit it, the just ended season saw Express FC's worst performance ever and Boroboro's narrow escape from relegation stole the show entirely.
Notwithstanding the fact that the Red Eagles are not only the oldest club in Ugandan football but also one of the most known sides, they found themselves living next to the edge of the relegation sword throughout the 2006/2007 season, finishing just a place away from sinking into the first division. The eight times national champions dominated media headlines through out for their poor performance. The Wankulukuku based side struggled through nineteen consecutive games without registering a win. In the same season, they failed to raise a team to take on Masindi FC but managed to employ an impressive five coaches, one after the other!
Former prodigal son George Ssemogerere started the season but was forcefully sacked by the club's nonsense fans after the team lost their league opener against league debutants City Lads. Another of the club's ex-star players, Kefa Kisala, took over the mantle but did not warm his seat before he was ejected as matters lurched from bad to worse. Ibrahim Buwembo succeeded Kisala for a while before Ken Lubogo was given a chance to taste the hot bench. Lubogo threw in the towel during Express FC's encounter with bitter rivals SC Villa. Villa won the match by one goal to no response from the Red Eagles, thanks Mike Azira's strike. With only four fixtures to spare and their club glued to the third position from the bottom of the table, Express FC's bosses cast their final die by assigning former Uganda Cranes winger Sam Simbwa with the task of saving their ship from sinking. Thankfully, the vocal former Mbale Heroes tactician delivered.
Some people though, are not satisfied with the manner in which the team survived relegation. They claim that the limping club was aided by favours from the Super League organizing committee, which revised the fixtures with a few games to the end of the league without satisfactory explanations.
Boroboro FC proved the old aphorism, History repeats itself wrong when they managed to negotiate with the gods that always haunted their predecessors from the northern part of Uganda for long. Boroboro becomes the first side from northern Uganda in over two decades to be promoted to the Super League and survive the relegation axe in their maiden year. Boroboro was promoted to the Super League a season ago and it should be of little surprise that they did not hide their happiness after their 3-0 victory over City Lads in their final game. This assured them of a slot in the Super League for the 2007/2008 season. Lion hearted Dan Obote, the team's mid-season signing and the team's home support have been vital in securing Boroboro's success. Obote, a former South Africa-based workhorse put pen to paper for the league debutants during the mid-season transfer window and turned out be the masterstroke from the team. Save for the goal keeping position, he was employed in all the team's departments to ensure that it survived relegation. The team's fans always turned into its twelfth player when they turned Lira town (Boroboro's home) into the worst place to visit for any other team. Ask SC Villa's tactician Asuman Lubowa. It is the intimidating home support that has ruined my attempt to obtain maximum points. It wouldn't allow my boys to settle! he was quoted saying, shortly after his boys were held to a one-all draw in the second leg. Apart from Police FC and KCC FC, no team (including champions URA) picked maximum points from Lira.
Revelations of the season:
Club: URA FC
During his first season at the tax collectors camp, the 22-year old midfield dynamo has established himself as a football star at Kyambogo and was the architect of URA's triumph this season. The creativity, scoring prowess and untiring efforts of the former Simba FC playmaker did not only overshadow the club's trio of favourite sons David Kiwanuka, David Kalungi and Sam Nadduli but also made him a hot nominee for the Ugandan player-of-year award. Ochan, whose only remaining task is taking his club-level heroics to the national team, joined URA last season from Simba FC at an estimated three million Uganda shillings transfer fee.
Club: KCC FC
His 22 goals in the season describe what kind of a season the former Mbale Heroes' sharpshooter enjoyed. Despite suffering for five months without a salary from his bosses, Kitagenda gave his all to the 'Kasasiro boys' to scoop the top scorer's award.
Club: SC Villa
At only 19 years of age and within two seasons of graduating from SC Villa's nursery, Azira has restored some hope at Villa Park that he has the potential to fill the gaps in the team's defence line left by the departure of the likes of Timothy Batabaire, Andy Mwesigwa and Samadu Mutumba. The cool center back was the pillar in the Joogos' rearguard. He has, on several occasions, been called to the team's rescue and has scored some vital goals for the Nsambya based team, his strike to sink old nemesis Express FC in the second round being one of them.
His tireless efforts are paying dividends as he has been handed the vice captaincy role at the expense of more experienced teammates like Joram Katende, Alex Ndugga and Augustine Nsumba.
Outstanding: SC Villa's first choice goal keeper Yassin Mugabi trains at Nsambya.
The former Iganga TC and Villa goal merchant has not only given trouble to defenders of other teams in the local league but to international ones too. Nigeria's much-hyped backline, commanded by Everton's Joseph Yobo can attest to how deadly this boy was during 2007. He has attracted several foreign clubs including South African giants Kaiser Chiefs and defending champions Sundowns who are scrambling for his signature
Ultimate Media's ideal first eleven chosen from the 2006/2007 Super League:
Mulindwa Muwonge ( URA), Richard Malinga ( URA), Joram Katende (SC Villa), Mike Azira (SC Villa) Musa Doka (Kinyara Sugar Works), Johnson Bagoole (URA), Daniel Wagaluka (URA), Patrick Ochan (URA), Hamis Kitagenda (KCC ), Ronald Muganga (Bunamwaya ) Nathan Mutenza (KCC).
Flops of the season:
Anthony Bongole (KCC), David Kiwanuka (URA) and Ibrahim Jingo (Kinyara)
Flop does not appear to be precise enough a word to describe the trio's performance. At one point, Uganda's national football coach Laszlo Csaba described Bongole as rare talent in the country. With Nsumba and Bongole, Uganda has a bright future, the Hungarian was quoted saying shortly after arriving in Uganda for his job.
Barely a year later, Csaba should be revising his statement. The St.Mary's Kitende Senior Secondary School product played below expectations for the whole season. He admits that much but attributes it to not being used in his favorite positions. On too many occasions, I have been assigned wing positions where I feel uncomfortable, reveals the 21-year old athletic striker. Some observers, however, claim that the striker is unsettled at Lugogo and is heading to Wankulukuku to join the struggling Red Eagles. This, they add, is his life long dream, hence the dismal performance.
As for Kiwanuka, he has been averaging at least thirteen goals per season for the last decade and his six goals this season could be a sign that the good days of the veteran marksman have finally ended. A favourite product of URA FC, he is a familiar figure on the Ugandan football radar, having been a perennial candidate for the golden boot for the last one and half decades while playing for UMEME FC, SC Villa, KCC, Express, Military Police FC and SCOUL.
The dismal performance magnet did not spare Kinyara Sugar Works' youngster Ibrahim Jingo either. The former Top TV midfielder has been a shadow of last season's performances, raising fears amongst Uganda's soccer fraternity that the 22-year old might be on his way to joining Uganda's endless list of lost football talent.
All said, the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) should be credited for fostering the stiff competition and relatively fair refereeing observed. However, the low spectator turn up at stadiums, the absence of notable sponsors and the questionable quality of most club coaches remain key challenges for Uganda's football governing body. Catch you in the next season.
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First published: September 8, 2007
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.