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Crisis-hit Jogoos search for new coach, players

Greek coach Petros Koukouras

Greek coach Petros Koukouras

They remain Uganda’s most successful club of all time. And their fanbase remains as vociferous as ever, the club’s faithful still longing for the lustre of old when the Jogoos were one of the most dominant clubs not only in Uganda but Africa.

Yet today SC Villa is rarely in the limelight for positive news. For most of last season, the club flirted with relegation. The club’s safety in the topflight wasn’t confirmed until the last bend of the season, which is an oddity for a club of their stature.

Last week the club relieved Greek coach Petros Koukouras of his duties in a development which was hardly a surprise. His job was always going to be under scrutiny after one of the most forgettable seasons in the history of the 16-time Uganda Premier League champions.

Yet the picture ahead remains foggy for the Jogoos. There are several ifs and buts for the Blues who have fallen way off behind former rivals KCCA, Express and champions Vipers in Ugandan football today.

In fact while Koukouras is out now, it would be a misconception that the club’s problems were mostly down to the man on the touchline. His dismissal, it can be argued, can only paper over the cracks.

Although the club’s finances have greatly been improved thanks to the funding provided by the club’s president Hajj Omar Mandela, SC Villa is yet to fill the position of chief executive officer (CEO). That position has grown in prominence and importance in Ugandan club football in recent times with the league tending towards the best practices in the game’s most professional leagues globally.

William Nkemba, the club’s former player and previous interim chairman, has executed the duties of the position nominally but observers wonder whether he can be as dedicated and committed as the likes of Anisha Muhoozi at KCCA and Isaac Mwesigwa at Express.

Nkemba is too busy with his full-time job at Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited, where he is employed as the Projects Implementation manager.

Mandela is known to trust Nkemba beyond reproach, but a section of his executive are not sure whether the latter has time for the position. The club is thought to be in the latter stages of advertising for the position. Mandela, The Observer understands, wants Nkemba to remain in some sort of management position in the running of club affairs.

A few weeks ago, the club made an audition of players interested in featuring for the Jogoos. It is a move that has been done before but it remains to be seen how successful it can be in identifying the talent the club requires to return to the top.

“It is not how SC Villa used to do things,” a senior figure, who requested anonymity, remarked. “You don’t build a broken club like that.”

The club is presently being funded by Mandela’s deep pockets, yet Villa’s self-sustainability can only be achieved through the ability to attract and maintain sponsorships. And for all the club’s well-documented on-and-off-pitch struggles, SC Villa’s brand power remains unabated.

SC Villa today doesn’t have an official CEO, a coach, a home of its own and is still in the hunt for playing staff to improve from the shambles of last season.

This off-season will be very key in defining the course of the club’s 2022-23 campaign. The club would want to hit the ground running when the season kicks off but for that to happen, they will have no room for error in the recruitment of a CEO, coach and players.

It is now coming to eight years since the Jogoos last won a trophy- the 2015 Uganda Cup. Their last league triumph was achieved in 2004 when current Uganda Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic was at the helm.

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