The opening round of the 2014/15 Uganda Premier League (UPL) officially closes on Saturday as Kira Young Football club hosts Entebbe F.C at the Nelson Mandela Stadium, Namboole in a re-scheduled fixture.

Kawowo Sports’ David Isabirye captures the 15 talking points of the first round that has witnessed unbeaten Vipers Sports Club officially crowned the Christmas Champions with 35 points collected from 15 games.

1-    Emergence of New Talents:

Expectedly, the Uganda Premier League has unearthed new exciting talents on the block.

These are a special crop whose toil on the soccer turf is envisaged in three perspectives – sacrifice, overall enormous contribution to team play and individual brilliance.

As more players seek greener pastures and confines where sweet bread is better buttered, there are a crop of new players who have had splendid and consistent displays ever since the league commenced on 19th September 2014.

18 year Julius Malingumu was deemed surplus to requirements at the 16 time record league winners.

The pacy orthodox center forward was off loaded to new comers, Rwenshama F.C, where he has scored crucial goals (5) for the relegation bound side.

Bright Stars’ 19 year old midfielder, Kokas Opejo, BUL F.C’s Milton Kalisa, Sadolin Paints’ Allan Oryek, SC Villa’s David Bagoole, KCC’s Derrick Nsibambi, Nasser Muzamiru (Entebbe F.C), John ‘Neymar’ Wesley Kisakye (Lweza), Raymond Edema (Simba), Rogers Kalyango & Sadat Kyambadde (Police F.C), Vipers’ trio of Kezironi Kizito, Patrick Sembuya among others have been exceptional for their respective clubs.

Bright Stars F.C goalie, Mathias Kigonya will be best remembered for that eye catching free kick against BUL F.C at Lugogo before his nasty injury during an encounter with Kira Young at Namboole that has ruled him out in the club’s last 5 games.

Police F.C’s Sadat Kyambadde with well a perfectly executed delivery at Kavumba against Sadolin F.C.

2– Recycled brands:

 Players with the juicy tag; ‘Ever promising’ have also been re-born during the first round of the league.

These are in the mould of Sadolin F.C’s Ronald Lukungu, Jimmy Lule Kibirige  & Abubaker Tabula (Bright Stars F.C), Dan Wagaluka & Hamis Kitagenda (Soana F.C), Bul F.C skipper, Patrick ‘Crespo’ Asiku, URA’s Saidi Kyeyune, Muhammed Zziwa (Entebbe),Yusuf Kinene (BUL), Mike Sserumaga (Lweza F.C), Owen Kasule (KCC) and Police’s Siraje Ssevume, striker Umar Kasumba, who has turned the season around for Police F.C with individual brilliance of 7 goals.

This category requires to be reminded of their career and potential time over and again to squeeze the best result from them.

3-Cash Stripped Clubs:

All clubs (Institutional ones inclusive) in the Uganda Premier League clubs have felt the financial bug.

Personally, I prefer to indulge in discussions of players’ performance on their ‘grass office’ than the ‘glass talk’ – the other side of football politics.

Truth be told, several teams have been strongly hit to the extent of training once a week or even missing training completely in the name of cutting expenses.

4-Violence still Persistent:

Fans violence has remained a dangerous vice associated with the Uganda Premier League.

Several matches were marred by incidents of crowd trouble with the two at Bugembe Stadium in Jinja (Sadolin Paints Vs Kira Young and Sadolin Paints Vs SC Villa).

At Mityana Ssaza grounds, Express fans caused the abandonment of their tie with SC Villa with 5 minutes to play while at their own grave yard – Wankukuluku, there were cases of crowd trouble in the matches involving Bul F.C.

There were cases of fans’ misconduct at Buikwe when Vipers Sports Club hosted SC Villa.

Fans behavior in the transit to and from the match venues is suspect with several accidents encountered.

There have been along Mityana road involving Lweza fans and along the Jinja-Kampala Highway involving the chaotic Sadolin Paints supporters.

5-Coaches resign, others booted:

The old school football adage; that ‘Football coaching is the most temporary job on planet earth’ has been justified not once or even twice but on countless occasions through the 14 weeks of the Uganda Premier League action.

From the endless threats and corridor warnings onto which Bul F.C tactician, Kefa Kisala and his counterpart at URA F.C, Alex Isabirye have been subjected to through to the ‘sugar coated resignation’ of George ‘Best’ Nsiimbe, formerly at KCC (now at Tanzanian giants., Azam F.C), several coaches have been forcefully booted out whilst a crop have bowed to pressure and resigned.

Kira Young F.C and Harunah Kebba parted ways early in the season.

Kebba’s departure was followed by the sudden resignation of Rwenshama F.C’s Shafik Bisaso and Lweza F.C’s Vialli Bianomugisha, who absconded from club duty after fans threatened his dear life and family over suspect team selection.

There was drama as the entire technical bench of Entebbe F.C, led by Matia Lule (now at Tanzanian Premier league side, Stand F.C) resigned crying foul of nonpayment of wages and salaries for over 7 months.

6-Witch Craft within Football Clubs:

Upon being unveiled as new SC Villa head coach, Former Uganda Cranes international, Sam Ssimbwa (replaced Steven Bogere) is  on record to have openly blasted a player within the current SC Villa team set up on his ‘witch craft habits’.

Ssimbwa without mincing words targeted a player during his first address with the group that;

I have been reliably told you are a guru at witch craft. Now corrupt my mind and I play you week in, week out.

Witch Craft is as old a habit as humanity itself. The vice is rampant and silently encroaching most clubs with vivid cases cited in Lweza F.C where club fans have hurled all sorts of insults towards some players.

The vice has corrupted the positive mentality and attitude of many to leave them with depleted mindsets.

7-Fans continue to shun the league:

With the exception of the passionate fans of debutant sides; Lweza F.C and Jinja’s Sadolin Paints F.C, BUL F.C (at home) and SC Villa (only in their first 4 games of the season), the matches have been virtually played before empty terraces.

During the Entebbe Vs Bul F.C fixture at Nakivubo Stadium, there were hardly 10 fans watching the game.

Whatever happened to the passion of the fans as regardless watching the beautiful game during the Uganda Premier League fixtures needs eminent investigations and the quickest remedies before the start of the second round on 12th January 2015.

8 –Old Derbies Reality Tests:

SC Villa Vs Express, BUL F.C vs Sadolin Paints F.C, Bright Stars F.C Vs Soana F.C Vipers Vs SC Villa and Express Vs KCC were some of the games that were ear marked as ‘epic’.

Indeed, the games lived to their billing. SC Villa versus Express F.C tie was aborted with 5 minutes to play as the former were leading 2-1.

The ‘Eastern derby’ between Bul F.C and Sadolin Paints F.C was exciting and it ended in a 1 all draw.

The goal-less draw featuring Express F.C and KCC F.C at Wankulukuku stadium was marred by a heavy storm that left the playing area flooded.

Teams Sharing Home Venue:

The ‘Kavumba derby’ between Soana F.C and Police F.C produced its expected thrills and so was the battle of forces between Simba F.C and army side, Police F.C.

At the Ssaza grounds in Mityana, it was one way traffic for the SC Villa as they brushed aside the other home side, Rwenshama F.C 3-1.

KCC F.C easily won the ‘Lugogo derby’ overcoming Bright Stars F.C 3-0 as Express pipped Lweza F.C 2-1 in the ‘Wankulukuku derby’.

The other was the ‘Namboole derby’ when Sports Club Victoria University (SCVU) played to a 1 all draw with nemesis, Kira Young F.C.

9- Eng. Misagga’s Show Biz:

During the opening SC Villa games, club president, Eng. Ben Misagga hired musicians at a tune of U.shs 2M per person to the team home fixtures.

Mathias Walukagga (self confessed SC Villa fan), Desire Luzinda and King Saha of the award winning ‘Mulirwana’ fame were paid handsomely to attend the club matches even without any performances.

Luzinda of the infamous ‘Ekitone’ tune launched the Club publication, Soccer Vision (RIP after one edition) and was present the club’s Jogoo water project launch.

10- UPL Fixture at an Un-sanctioned Venue:

On the day Kampala City Council hosted the inter-cities sports tournament, the Nelson Mandela, Namboole Stadium arena was engaged.

It so happened that the same venue was to host Sports Club Victoria University – Soana F.C fixture on the same day.

The SCVU Vs Soana F.C fixture was played at the Namboole Stadium training ground.

To the shock of all, the match was transferred to the outside training ground which without the mandatory perimeter fencing separating the fans from the players and technical benches.

During the game (rowdy and excited fans) easily pulled and pushed players.

Holding the match on such unsanctioned ground was one of the lowest points of the Uganda Premier League first round.

11–
Death of Simba Player, Fahad Musana

Just 24 hours after featuring in his team’s opening 0-1 victory of the season over Entebbe F.C, Simba’s defender, Fahad Musana breathed his last – ironically in a makeshift video hall as he was watching his favorite Chelsea club play Manchester City.

Musana had played the entire 90 minutes of the game against Entebbe and even managed to train with teammates the next day.

The incident sent shock waves across the sporting divide but 2 days later, a postmortem report from the national referral health facility – Mulago Hospital indicated that he died from breathing complications as a result of Pneumonia.

12- Shock Results:

Like in many other football fixtures, the ‘underdogs’ occasionally shock the heavy weights.

The 1-0 victory of league debutants, Sadolin Paints over the league defending champions, KCC and that 3-2 victory of Rwenshama F.C against Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) will stood out aloft the many others.

Express F.C continued to falter at the once dreaded Wankulukuku Stadium- losing 1-2 to Soana F.C and against BUL F.C.

Others were the goal-less draw of Bright Stars against Vipers S.C at Buikwe. Sadolin’s draw against Express F.C and that nail biting 2-1 Police victory over the 16 time record league winners, Sports Club Villa.

13- Clubs Misery Continued:

As the administrative wrangles of the league sponsorship monies continued with sponsors, Super Sport delaying to dispatch the financial package to the teams, the final losers have been the clubs with the players feeling the most painful pinch.

Most clubs retrenched staff, cut off on the number of training days to minimize on the operational costs involving the day to day affairs of the clubs.

Even basics as training bibs, boots, balls, water and other equipment were hard for most teams.

Soana F.C played SCVU minus a team doctor. For many clubs, payment of allowances and salaries has been a total myth with teams struggling from start to finish.

Entebbe F.C entire bench resigned citing nonpayment of salaries dating as far back as 7 months ago..

Even at institutional clubs as Simba F.C (banked by Uganda Peoples Defense Forces – UPDF), players at one stage vowed to lay down their tools for failure of getting salaries as low as U.shs 100,000 per month.

At SCVU, 3 senior players, Denis Iguma, Benjamin Ochan and Murushid Jjuuko could not access transport funds to and from Entebbe to the club’s Namboole training base for 2 months and they quit the club altogether.

At Entebbe F.C, they only regrouped for matches with one or no training session due to limited financial resources.

14- Referees steal the show:

Seldom do football referees world over fight and seriously compete for the man of the match performance with the main actors – the Players.

Majority of the Uganda Premier League referees who officiated the games left the matches with ‘half-baked’ performances many of which precipitated crowd trouble among the fans.

15- Unbeaten Vipers Sports Club:

It has never been an easy achievement to finish 15 league games unbeaten.

Kudos to Vipers Sports Club for the feat that officially crowns them the Christmas champions.

Whereas Vipers S.C has been miles ahead of many teams with the most victories (10), Rwenshama F.C, Entebbe F.C and Soana F.C only managed 2 wins apiece and deeply linger in the relegation zone.

David Isabirye is a senior staff writer for Kawowo Sports where he covers most of the major events.

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