As we crown the year and making ourselves ready for the next, a review shows 2012 has been marked by a series of successes and failures but the latter whose impact was not just confined to one frozen moment in time, but echoed throughout the year stole the limelight and overshadows the little successes registered.
From another failure to break the AFCON jinx, moments of genius on the pitch and of disastrous decision-making by the administrators, the wrangles between FUFA and USL which climaxed with two national leagues playing concurrently, Express FC being crowned league champions for the first time in 16 years, the Cranes winning another Cecafa title and Chris Mubiru sodomy vice finally unearthed with graphical and video evidence among others. These are the eventss that defined one of the most unpredictable years in memory of Ugandan football as ISMAEL KIYONGA writes in details.
EXPRESS FC WON THE LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP
It was a year Express FC won the league championship despite kicking off the season with an underdog tag having had average pre-season preparations. Against all odds, The Red Eagles beat favourites URA FC and Bunamwaya SC to the title on the final day of the season following their 2-1 win over Bidco FC at Mandela National Stadium, Namboole. Thanks to a brace from Yayo Lutimba on the day, Express FC’s 16 year league trophy drought came to an end. On a personal note, Sam Ssimbwa also won his first league title as Coach plus the season gave us Bonny Baingana, Jamal Salim and Yayo Lutimba as revelations.
ANOTHER AFCON NEAR MISS FOR UGANDA CRANES
Having missed out on qualification for the edition in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea 2012, many thought this was Uganda Cranes’ year to break the AFCON Jinx given the qualification schedule for the 2013 edition in South Africa was even shortened. After eliminating Congo Brazzaville in the first round, the Cranes drew African Champions Zambia in the second and final round.
After narrowly losing 1-0 away in Ndola, Zambia in the first leg, all Uganda needed was a win of a two goal margin to advance. Come D-day of the return leg, Geoffrey Massa gave Uganda hope when he struck on the 27th minute mark to level the scores but like against Kenya in 2011, Cranes failed to find the much needed second goal to seal qualification. With the tie evenly tied 1-1 after 180 minutes, Uganda failed at the last hurdle losing 9-8 on penalties. It was another heart break!!!
THE CRANES SUCCESSFULLY DEFENDED CECAFA TUSKER CUP
In the same year, the Cranes dominance in the East and Central region was on show when the side defended the regional title on home soil. Besides glory, the side won the competition with a perfect record and conceded just one goal (in the finals against Kenya). It was Uganda’s 13th Cecafa crown and somehow made Ugandans forget the misery suffered against Zambia.
FUFA Vs USL WRANGLES
If there is anything positive Ugandan soccer has achieved in 2012, it has all been watered down by the un ending feud between the Federation of Uganda Football Association (FUFA) and Uganda Super League Ltd (USLL). It started small but has climaxed with two national leagues playing concurrently. After withdrawing the mandate from USL to run the league, the federation hurriedly created the Fufa Super League (FSL) and threatened to ban any team that participated in what it termed as the illegal Bell Uganda Super League. Despite threats, some teams insisted in playing in the USL and as you read this, most are divided into two (SC Villa, Masaka LC, Express FC, Victors FC, Water FC, Police FC and Simba SC) and play in both leagues. The wrangles have not only confused the players and fans but Ugandan football risks losing sponsors (Uganda Breweries and Supersport) who have threatened to quit in case no resolution is reached.
The situation has attracted interest from the government and thus calls from the Minister of Education and Sports Hon. Jessica Alupo has issued an ultimatum that both sides must end their fights and work together towards the development of the game by having one league by January 31st next year.
CHRIS MUBIRU SODOMY VICE FINALLY GRAPHICALLY REVEALED
It had always been said but none had the evidence to pin this soccer philanthropist. Thanks to Red pepper, Chris Mubiru’s sodomy acts were revealed this year. The former SC Villa, Bunamwaya SC and Cranes manager was finally graphically revealed in action with fellow men. It’s hurting that video evidence has a number of victims in the soccer circles including administrators and players.
Though it is saddening, the revelations will go a long way in curbing the un Godly act at least in Ugandan football.
SUPER LEAGUE PLAYER STRIKE
In the same year, players in the Bell Uganda super League put their tools down as a way to show their dissatisfaction over low payments and poor welfare. This was fuelled by the Uganda Footballers Association (UFA) led by officials Dan Walusimbi, Dan Muwanguzi and Dan Mubiru.
The strike didn’t only affect some league fixtures but also led to the expulsion of Fire Masters from the league after they missed three consecutive games. It also hit hard on some players careers (Quddus Elasu) and have never gotten back again on track.
RETURN OF THE FOOTBALL AWARDS
Again this year, Ugandan footballers were recognised for their displays in the league. Such an occasion had last happened in 2007 under Anfield Communication and the soccer fraternity was happy to see their return in a glamorous event held at Serena Hotel, Kampala. It was fantastic as players, coaches, journalists and administrators who had stood out in the previous season were finally recognised.
Forget the aftermath of the awards in which the MVP Robert Ssentongo still demands his car, it was fantastic seeing the glamour return to Ugandan football.
DANIEL SSERUNKUMA CONQUERED KENYA
In the same year, a Ugandan went, saw and conquered the Kenya Tusker Premier League in style. His name is Daniel ‘Mzee’ Sserunkuma- former KKL, Express FC and Victors FC striker. The diminutive forward’s exploits with Gor Mahia FC earned him the Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award. Despite missing out on the KPL golden boot and title on the final day, Sserunkuma guided the club to FKF Cup glory.
SC VILLA SPLIT INTO TWO FACTIONS
It is in 2012 that SC Villa; the most successful club in the country split into two factions. Following wrangles between Fufa and USL, a section of SC Villa administrators led by long serving technical director Sam Tamale Kapeera broke away from the Fred Muwema led executive and formed another side that plays in the FSL. The break way was engineered by some administrators in the federation and most senior players bar custodian Benjamin Ochan all crossed the divide. Despite the legality being questioned, the side has full backing of Fufa. It all happened this year.
With the above and many other incidents un mentioned, 2012 can be talked of as a year of curse in Ugandan football since the positives are way far below the negatives.
What incidents do you feel deserve mention in 2012? Positive or Negative