SC Villa are just two points above the relegation zone in the Uganda Premier League (UPL). They have the unenviable task of getting a result at the St Mary’s stadium in Kitende, when they take on league defending champions, Vipers SC today, Saturday.
The Jogoos are coming off a one-all draw in midweek with Bright Stars FC. It was Villa’s fifth successive league game without a win, a problem they must arrest, before they are dragged into the relegation dog fight.
By the time coach Douglas Bamweyana was appointed as Moses Basena’s replacement back in November, Villa had not won any of its eight league games at the time.
And to start off with a win, gave Bamweyana’s reign a fresh beginning. In fact, it was coupled with some scintillating football on the deck stuff.
Villa were playing from the back, sustaining good build-ups, an approach, that saw them give their arch-rivals Express FC a rude awakening with a 2-0 win at Namboole. That was Bamweyana’s fourth game. And therein, he had recorded two wins and two draws.
But the win over Express turned out to be the last league win for Villa, and now, the fans are getting agitated again. First of all, since this season began, Villa’s best and most enterprising player has been the youthful left-back Derrick Ndahiro.
Ndahiro is not only a joy to watch with the ball at his feet (dribbling and passing), he is also a tenacious defender. Ndahiro has been Villa’s major outlet, when it comes to taking them forward and giving them imagination. He has a well weighted cross and an accurate final ball, whenever he ventures forward.
The arrival of Bamweyana, and his preferred 3-5-2 system appeared the most fitting structure for a player like Ndahiro. It gave him the freedom to be part of the midfield five, hence not only allowing Villa more numbers in the middle, but providing them with the required balance and threat on the left, something the erstwhile Joseph Ssemujju, the left winger had not been giving them.
In fact, in the earlier games of Bamweyana’s tenure, it was evident how much better Ndahiro made them look when on the attack. Normally in a 3-5-2 formation, the back three does not venture forward much, as they are expected to provide security, as the other seven players go in search of goals.
So, seeing Bamweyana choosing to play Ndahiro as part of the back three, was so much out of the blue, as it was uninspired. This has limited Ndahiro’s forward movements. And at the same time, made it difficult for Villa to be more incisive in attack.
Vipers will definitely love it any day, when Ndahiro plays closer to his goal, than theirs. Yet, for Villa, whose forwards, led by Bashir Mutanda, the league’s top-scorer with 11 goals, continues to be starved of supply, since most of Villa’s midfielders are still flying at half mast.
Bamweyana insisted that Ndahiro is doing a good job in the position he is deploying him. But in Bamweyana’s heart of hearts, he must realize it is self-defeating to make such a tactical strategy, which limits your best player from giving your more, yet there are other options to be in his back three.
Former Cranes defender Habib Kavuma has proved over the years to be a reliable centre-back covering the left side for the last three years, when he played for KCCA FC.
But when Bamweyana introduced him against URA FC a week ago, instead of fielding him in his customary position, he played him as a left wing back, a role that requires good speed, that Kavuma never had even when he was younger.
Against Vipers, to whom Villa lost 1-3 in the first round at Namboole, the Jogoos have their work cut out. And playing with a halfhearted mentality, because players are fielded in positions they are not accustomed to, will cost them dearly.
Other than that, Bamweyana has introduced a new philosophy at Villa Park, that even a team that has been longer like Vipers, will struggle to cope with, when it is in flow. Villa, today, are one of the best passing sides in the league, although the incisive final ball and the movement of the forwards is still wanting.