The 2017/2018 Azam Uganda Premier League (AUPL) kicks off tomorrow, and pressure is on every team to make a good start, reports JOHN VIANNEY NSIMBE.
Two-time league defending champions KCCA FC will be the team to beat this season; at least every other team will be aiming for them. KCCA begin the defence of their title against Maroons FC, a game like no other for the subplots around it.
Like KCCA, Maroons were promoted as Big League champions; so, it will be a big test of wits between coaches Mike Mutebi and Asaph Mwebaze, who largely espouse a similar brand of football of pass and move.
There are probably no teams in the league that have faced each other more times over the last one year than KCCA and Maroons. Almost each time KCCA were going for a continental tie, they played Maroons in a friendly. And they were close affairs.
“They always gave us a hard time to break down,” Mutebi said.
He added that Maroons always exhibited good tactical awareness, which got his team thinking. And although KCCA would win by the odd goal, Mutebi acknowledges, Maroons reflected the smartness of their coach.
That should make their meeting tomorrow a real close contest. The last time the two met in the league, back in April 2016, before Maroons were relegated, only an injury-time Paul Mucureezi goal avoided a goalless draw.
However, Maroons is still smarting from the recent return of Mwebaze, who had resigned. Mwebaze felt the club was not supporting him in beefing up the team. They have added some players, although the high-profile one is forward William Wadri, formerly with Proline, KCCA, Vipers and Police.
Maroons is supposed to be a platform for Wadri to resurrect his fading career. But how nice that would have been if he was teaming up with striker Patrick Kaddu and goalkeeper Jamil Malyamungu who Maroons sold to KCCA. But with youthful winger Pius Obuya, Maroons should be able to make an impression.
No one will want to make an impression like new Soana FC coach Shafik Bisaso. He takes his side to the Masaka recreation ground to face SC Villa, who sacked him last season.
Villa has brought in firepower through Simon Sserunkuma, Allan Kyambadde and George Ssenkaba. But also, Nicholas Kasozi in midfield should make the Jogoos quickly forget Tadeo Lwanga, who joined Vipers.
Conversely, Soana has lost a host of players. From Kamada Ssebaggala, Frank Kalanda, Francis Olaki to Geoffrey Ssimbwa. But they have brought in experienced Anthony Bongole and Owen Kasule. Defender Farooq Matovu from Express FC has an idea of how to beat Villa too.
Proline is one of the teams that travelled to Arua last year and did not lose to Onduparaka. They drew one-all there, before winning in Lugogo 3-1. But Onduparaka has not only been backed by the Shs 600m sponsorship from Betway. They have added goalkeeper Nicholas Ssebwato and forward Viane Ssekajugo.
Uganda premier league
SC Villa v Soana- Masaka
B. Stars v Vipers- Mwererwe
Bul v Mbarara City- Kakindu
KCCA FC v Maroons- Lugogo
Masavu v Police- Entebbe
Onduparaka v Proline- Arua