KCCA FC are currently in a league of their own when it comes to domestic football. Last Saturday, I watched with keen interest as they easily dispatched Maroons 6-1 to crown an eventful season with the league title.
There were some spontaneous celebrations in the aftermath of the game but they were devoid of the passion of yesteryear when winning a trophy meant it all. It could be that fans aren’t so passionate because this was the minimum they expected their club to achieve.
Put into perspective, KCCA has now won five league titles in the last seven years, a feat that means KCCA may soon catch up with SC Villa’s once insurmountable 16 titles. In fact, going by the current state of affairs, it is just a matter of when; not if, because KCCA is so superior to the rest of the contenders in almost every aspect.
But in the midst of the gratification, the club finds itself at a crossroads in regards to the next step of action. They are the best-funded club in the country and have the best players any team can afford; so, anything less than a league title would have rendered their season a disaster, especially when you factor in the fact that they were eliminated early on in the Uganda Cup and are yet to make a definitive impression on the continent.
For starters, you have to commend KCCA’s systematic nurturing of raw talents before refining them into real gems. The likes of Allan Okello, Mustafa Kiiza, Julius Poloto, Filbert Obenchan, Steven Sserwada, Patrick Kaddu, skipper Timothy Denis Awany, Eric Senjobe, Herbert Achai, Peter Magambo, Muzamiru Mutyaba, Sadat Anaku and Lawrence Bukenya are testament that clubs can build their own players without necessarily spending millions to buy.
So, the club faces a challenge of keeping these youngsters together for a cohesiveness that should be the standpoint to challenge the continent’s big guns. In that regard, you have got to credit Mike Mutebi for grooming these young players with a mix of a few experienced individuals such as Mike Mutyaba, goalie Charles Lukwago, Allan Kyambadde, Nicholas Kasozi and Ibrahim Sadam Juma to create a cohesive blend. It is this same template that has seen Ajax shock the European elite this season.
But as good as this crop of players is, they can only be the best among mediocre teams if the domestic rivals don’t improve their squads. KCCA needs to start thinking like a big club, not a big fish in a small pond.
Therefore, the real test shifts to the continent, where expectations have been raised following the team’s qualification to the group phase in 2017. That is the new gold standard if the club is to ramp up the five-year plan of becoming a continental giant.
In fact, now is the time for the club administration to appraise itself on the roadmap which it launched last year. That roadmap includes turning the Lugogo stadium into modern all-seater facility able to host continental encounters.
On that front, there is hardly anything on the ground much it is understandable that this requires a lot of money. A home stadium contributes a lot to a team’s success on the continent, especially the premier class in which the Lugogo stadium was deemed unfit to host such high-calibre matches.
Then there is the pressing issue of sustainability; whether the club can break free from the parent body’s funding. Still, that will take some time to achieve but for now, KCCA may find itself a victim of its own success if that success cannot be reflected on the continent.
The author is The Observer operations director.