Uganda's Super League Second Round Predictions
Its time for survival for the fittest As the half time whistle blows.
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First published: April 6, 2007
The second round of Uganda's national soccer Super League plays off this weekend and all the stakeholders stand in a now-or-never situation. As the likes of URA, KCC, Villa and Kinyara scramble for an opportunity to have the final laugh, the Red Eagles of Express FC incredibly find themselves in an unenviable position where the relegation axe is hanging above their necks. Equally in trouble, Simba FC coach Moses Basena has only this chance to salvage his job or else pack his belongings from Bombo Barracks. He has already been booked by the army, his employers, for the unconvincing performance in the first round. Kasozi Ramathan, analyses all the sixteen teams' chances of taking the crown vis-ŕ-vis surviving relegation.
Uganda Revenue Authority FC
The tax collectors started off the first round on a wrong note before finding the rhythm midway into the first half of the season. They are eyeing the table leadership and unless something drastic happens, they are set to retain their crown. In the pre-season transfer window when the international trio of Dan Wagaluka, Patrick Ochan and Johnson Bagoole put pen to paper confirming their cross over from SC Villa, Simba and Express respectively, club coach Video Frank Anyau warned that he will leave no stone unturned this season.
Because of his usual vocal nature, very few took his words seriously but the ever-smart tactician seems to be living up to his words as his new trio of players has turned out to be the pivot in his team. However, all said, the team's unfavourable average age and Anyau's tactical approach might be the team's undoing.
Currently, Uganda's record champions SC Villa are in the third spot with only a point between them and second placed KCC. The club's fanatics seem to be optimistic that they stand a chance of reclaiming the title they lost to Police FC in 2005. It is true that they are one of the most entertaining sides in the league but the relative inexperience of the current squad isn't yet worth a title. Most of the playing staff has just graduated from the club's nursery with less than two years of top-flight football. This probably explains their inconsistence. The destiny of the team in the second round will greatly depend on the magic of the Cranes' 19-year-old wonder kid Augustine Nsumba and the mid-field prowess of the Kenyan import, Tony Ndoro.
By the time this article was written, this club's bosses were still fighting to get the signature of other entertaining Kenyan mid fielders in the making, Hakim Magumba and John Okwemba. If they succeed, these lads will add some more steel to the team's backbone.
Prediction: Runners up
The Kasasiro boys last smelt the Super League title a decade ago when their current tactician Jackson Mayanja was still wearing the captain's armband. They have shown some signs of recovery recently and plenty of hunger for the crown but if we are to go by history, don't be surprised if they falter somewhere in the later stages. The 1997 champions always tend to start off well in the first round and falter when things get hotter, thanks to their internal wrangles. However the goal poaching antics of Kitagenda and the inclusion of the playing staff on the pay roll of mayor Ssebaggala's Kampala City Council (KCC) may redefine the status quo.
The cops have been rather dormant in the first round and have a lot to prove in the second round to prove that their 2005 triumph wasn't a fluke. The return of Mike Sserumagga from FUFA's suspension is a timely boost to the Naguru based team.
Kinyara Sugar Works
The Masindi based side surprised everyone in the first round when they moved from relegation battlers to title contenders. Should skipper Kwiki Zamayoni, talented midfielder Ibrahim Jingo and U-23 international Doka continue with their sparkling form, the sugar manufacturing side are expected to exert some pressure on the leaders up to the final whistle.
The army side started superbly, playing seven games without a loss. Things however soured in the later stages to the extent that Head Coach Moses Basena and his players were summoned to Bombo barracks to explain their performance. Playing under pressure might cost them dearly in the next round.
Masaka Local Council LC
Vincent Bamulanzeki Ssempijas troops, Masaka LC, are languishing in the mid table area but will be playing the second round without any relegation pressure. They are not yet trophy-winning material but will be hoping to rely on their relatively good home record to end the season in a respectable position.
This is one of the worst seasons for the Wankuluku based side in more than 20 years. The departure of prodigal sons Hassan Mubiru and Tony Odur for greener pastures in Denmark left a huge dent in the Red Eagles' sanctuary. The club has employed an incredible record number of tacticians within one round.
The fans sacked George Ssemwogerere after losing to KCC's lads in the league opener. Kisala succeeded him but threw in the towel after the fans started demanding for his head paving way for Buwembo's short reign. It is now Lubogo's turn to try and rescue the drowning ship. At 19, Moses Aduni supported by Cameroonian Emma Zitolo and skipper Apollo Kakaire takes the responsibility of saving the team from a close relegation axe.
The acquisition of Ayieko to deputize coach Suleiman Kato might turn into a liability to Colonel Bell's team, as it is on record that two coaches of almost the same qualifications in Uganda's football hardly ever work together. The deputies tend to rebel in a quest to fail their superiors and thereafter take over. The Nsambya based side has played below average. The club's leading goal poacher Yudah Mugalu may probably recover his scoring boots. I don't see the Victors being hit by the relegation axe but don't be surprised if they sink into the battle.
The hopes of FUFA President Lawrence Mulindwa's boys in the second round lie in left footed Ronald Muganga and former Police FC dynamic midfielder, Robert Kimuli.
Last year they reached the finals of Uganda's second prestigious competition, Kakungulu Cup and lost to Express FC. Since then, the water boys have never recovered their magic and find themselves entangled in the relegation battle. Unless their current form changes, I see them fighting for survival up to the final day.
After goals eluding his leading striker Yusufu Kinene, veteran coach Jimmy Muguwa, is up to now in a serious search for a striker that can save his team from sliding down back to where they were a couple of years ago. The ever impatient imbalu fans have started promising to pay the former Express FC tactician in dollars should the relegation axe miss them.
Like their fellow eastern rivals, Mbale Heroes, the former giants have been instrumental in the emergence of aces like Magumba, Nathan Mutenza, Bagoole, Kadogo to mention but a few. They need to perform at more than 100% if they are to escape falling back down to where they were last season.
Next on my prediction list are the ambassadors of northern Uganda who are not only fighting relegation but even history. In the past two decades, no team from their region has ever lasted in top-flight football for more than a year. Their 3-0 gallop over Express is still memorable to their fans. Their impressive fans will have to play a very big part if the team is to defy the odds they face.
They should be packing their bags and getting ready to return to the first division. Their 1-0 piping over hapless Express is the only memento they have to show for the entire first round.
They are as a good as relegated at this stage and should be handing over the flag to town rivals Kinyara FC. They ought to start laying strategies on how to conquer the teams they left on their way up from the first division last season.
That is it for my predictions. Let me know what you think.
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First published: April 6, 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.