URA players celebrate a goal Credit: John Batanudde

A look at URA FC squad this season would give you an impression of a team that should be contending for the league title. Not so many clubs in the Uganda Premier League can afford the playing unit that the Tax Collectors have this season. Actually, besides leaders Vipers SC, URA FC have the second best squad on paper.

Like it has been their tradition over the past seasons, URA FC were very active in the transfer market prior to the start of the season, signing a number of players in a bid to bolster their squad.

Anwar Ntege smiles as he signed the employment contract at URA FC. He joined from Ndejje University Credit: URA FC Media

Some of the new arrivals included; Ashraf Mandela, Brian Majwega (returned from Maroons FC), Ivan Ntege, Ivan Sserubiri, Hassan Kalega, Mustapha Anwar Ntege, Ivan Ntege, Michael Birungi Komuntale and Najib Faisal among others.

Building on last campaigns squad that impressed in the second round of the league, there was honest belief that the four-time league winners would pose a big threat to Vipers SC- KCCA FC duopoly that has seen them share the league title since 2014.

However, a sloppy start saw URA FC lose ground in the title race and even their second round revamped performance may not count that much in as far as the title talk is concerned. The Tax Collectors are a distant fifth on the log, 14 points behind run-away leaders Vipers SC with five games to play.

Ivan Ntege is joined by teammates in celebration after scoring his first goal at the club against Maroons FC Credit: Uganda Premier League

A dominant and convincing display against Maroons FC in their first game this season at Mandela National Stadium seemed like a signal in the title race. However, the next games showed URA FC had several challenges to solve both on and off the pitch. It actually took them five games to register their second win of the season (2-1 win at Onduparaka FC).

Sam Ssimbwa’s charges failed to show consistency especially in the first round, winning just four games and scoring a meager 13 goals in 15 games.

Since the departure of Robert Ssentongo, URA FC have failed to get a reliable striker and this has greatly affected them. It is worth stating that for a team that wants to win a championship, a lethal striker is a must. Of the aforementioned 13 goals in the first round, only three came from strikers (all by Cromwell Rwothomio).

URA’s Cromwell Rwothomio after missing a chance Credit: John Batanudde

Whereas he has improved in the second round, adding five more goals to take his tally to eight in the league, Rwothomio may not be the perfect solution for the caliber of a striker that URA FC needs to have a realistic title challenge.

Ssimbwa- Kakembo bickering

Ivan Kakembo during his epoch as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at URA Football Club Credit: URA FC Media

It was a public secret that coach Sam Ssimbwa and Ivan Kakembo (then URA FC CEO) were at logger-heads and this in one way or the other affected the team’s performance.

First, the two failed to agree on the transfer policy with each wanting to authorise the new players to be signed. For instance, Sam Ssimbwa had signed John Ssemazi and he was even unveiled. But because Kakembo didn’t sanction the deal, the striker later moved to Tooro United FC.

Teenage striker Ibrahim Juma Dada was reportedly brought to URA FC by Kakembo from Nyamityobora FC but Ssimbwa was very bitter about the deal and never used the said player.

Ibrahim Juma Dada (left) signs the employment contract at URA. He has not played for the tax collectors this season Credit: URA FC

Just recently, the FUFA Ethics Committee summoned Ssimbwa after Kakembo accused him of bribing referees to fix games.

The Positives

The league title could be out of reach but it cannot go without saying that URA FC have picked some positives this season.

The resurgence of midfielder Saidi Kyeyune deserves a mention. I personally believe he is the best player in the league this campaign. Seven goals and as many assists has attracted the attention of many, including Uganda Cranes head coach Jonathan McKinstry who has given him a second bite at the cherry, summoning him in the provisional squad that was preparing for 2020 Championship of African Nations.

URA FC midfielder Saidi Kyeyune in action

Sam Ssimbwa is known for being a master of winning games against the supposedly big teams. This season, especially in the second round, he has floored all the traditional teams (that is SC Villa, Express and KCCA FC) plus leaders Vipers SC.

URA FC head coach Sam Ssimbwa Credit: John Batanudde

Additionally, whereas moving from Mandela National Stadium to Arena of Visions was welcomed as an inconvenience, it has eventually turned out to be a big advantage to URA FC with the Ndejje based stadium becoming a fortress.  URA FC has won four of the five games hosted at the Arena of Visions.

Below is a breakdown of the 25 league games for URA FC this season.

Match 1: URA FC 3-0 Maroons FC

Goals scored by Said Kyeyune, Ivan Ntege and Ronald Orombi (own goal)

URA FC Starting XI

  • Nafian Alionzi
  • Ashraf Mandela
  • Yesseri Waibi
  • Hudu Mulikyi
  • Paul Mbowa
  • Hassan Kalega
  • Shafik Kagimu
  • Saidi Kyeyune
  • Cromwell Rwothomio
  • Moses Sseruyidde
  • Mikidadi Ssenyonga

Match 2: Wakiso Giants FC 3-1 URA FC

Goal scored by Saidi Kyeyune

URA FC Starting XI

  • Nafian Alionzi
  • Ashraf Mandela
  • Yesseri Waibi
  • Benjamin Nyakoojo
  • Paul Mbowa
  • Hassan Kalega
  • Shafik Kagimu
  • Saidi Kyeyune
  • Anwar Ntege
  • Mikidadi Ssenyonga
  • Joackim Ojera

Match 3: URA FC 0-0 Kyetume FC

URA FC Starting XI

  • James Alitho
  • Ashraf Mandela
  • Yesseri Waibi
  • Hudu Mulikyi
  • Benjamin Nyakojo
  • Hassan Kalega
  • Shafik Kagimu
  • Saidi Kyeyune
  • Cromwell Rwothomio
  • Joackim Ojera
  • Michael Birungi

Match 4: URA FC 1-2 Tooro United FC

Goal scored by Brian Majwega

URA FC Starting XI

  • James Alitho
  • Ashraf Mandela
  • Yesseri Waibi
  • Hudu Mulikyi
  • Paul Mbowa
  • Hassan Kalega
  • Shafik Kagimu
  • Saidi Kyeyune
  • Anwar Ntege
  • Brian Majwega
  • Michael Birungi

Match 5: Bright Stars FC 0-0 URA FC

URA FC Starting XI

  • James Alitho
  • Ashraf Mandela
  • Yesseri Waibi
  • Hudu Mulikyi
  • Paul Mbowa
  • Julius Mutyaba
  • Shafik Kagimu
  • Saidi Kyeyune
  • Cromwell Rwothomio
  • Brian Majwega
  • Joackim Ojera

Match 6: URA FC 1-1 BUL FC

Goal scored by Shafik Kagimu

URA FC Starting XI

  • James Alitho
  • Ashraf Mandela
  • Yesseri Waibi
  • Hudu Mulikyi
  • Paul Mbowa
  • Hassan Kalega
  • Julius Mutyaba
  • Shafik Kagimu
  • Saidi Kyeyune
  • Cromwell Rwothomio
  • Brian Majwega

Match 7: Onduparaka FC 1-2 URA FC

Goals scored by Cromwell Rwothomio (brace)

URA FC Starting XI

  • James Alitho
  • Ashraf Mandela
  • Yesseri Waibi
  • Hudu Mulikyi
  • Paul Mbowa
  • Julius Mutyaba
  • Shafik Kagimu
  • Saidi Kyeyune
  • Cromwell Rwothomio
  • Brian Majwega
  • Joackim Ojera

Match 8: URA FC 0-0 Mbarara City FC

URA FC Starting XI

  • James Alitho
  • Ashraf Mandela
  • Hudu Mulikyi
  • Paul Mbowa
  • Julius Mutyaba
  • Shafik Kagimu
  • Saidi Kyeyune
  • Cromwell Rwothomio
  • Brian Majwega
  • Joackim Ojera
  • Mikidadi Ssenyonga

Match 9: SC Villa 1-1 URA FC

Goal scored by Brian Majwega

URA FC Starting XI

  • Nafian Alionzi
  • Ashraf Mandela
  • Brian Majwega
  • Hudu Mulikyi
  • Paul Mbowa
  • Ivan Ntege
  • Shafik Kagimu
  • Saidi Kyeyune
  • Daniel Isiagi
  • Michael Birungi
  • Joackim Ojera

Match 10: Police FC 0-1 URA FC

Goal scored by Brian Majwega

URA FC Starting XI

  • James Alitho
  • Ashraf Mandela
  • Yesseri Waibi
  • Hudu Mulikyi
  • Paul Mbowa
  • Ivan Ntege
  • Shafik Kagimu
  • Saidi Kyeyune
  • Daniel Isiagi
  • Brian Majwega
  • Joackim Ojera

Match 11: Vipers SC 1-0 URA FC

URA FC Starting XI

  • James Alitho
  • Ashraf Mandela
  • Brian Majwega
  • Hudu Mulikyi
  • Paul Mbowa
  • Julius Mutyaba
  • Shafik Kagimu
  • Saidi Kyeyune
  • Daniel Isiagi
  • Michael Birungi
  • Joackim Ojera

Match 12: URA FC 0-0 Busoga United FC

URA FC Starting XI

  • James Alitho
  • Ashraf Mandela
  • Yesseri Waibi
  • Hudu Mulikyi
  • Paul Mbowa
  • Julius Mutyaba
  • Shafik Kagimu
  • Saidi Kyeyune
  • Cromwell Rwothomio
  • Brian Majwega
  • Michael Birungi

Match 13: KCCA FC 1-1 URA FC

Goal scored by Ashraf Mandela

URA FC Starting XI

  • James Alitho
  • Ashraf Mandela
  • Brian Majwega
  • Hudu Mulikyi
  • Paul Mbowa
  • Julius Mutyaba
  • Shafik Kagimu
  • Saidi Kyeyune
  • Cromwell Rwothomio
  • Michael Birungi
  • Joackim Ojera

Match 14: Express FC 0-0 URA FC

URA FC Starting XI

  • James Alitho
  • Ashraf Mandela
  • Yesseri Waibi
  • Benjamin Nyakojo
  • Paul Mbowa
  • Julius Mutyaba
  • Ivan Ntege
  • Shafik Kagimu
  • Daniel Isiagi
  • Brian Majwega
  • Joackim Ojera

Match 15: URA FC 2-1 Proline FC

Goals scored by Saidi Kyeyune and Cromwell Rwothomio

URA FC Starting XI

  • Nafian Alionzi
  • Ashraf Mandela
  • Brian Majwega
  • Hudu Mulikyi
  • Paul Mbowa
  • Ivan Sserubiri
  • Mikidadi Ssenyonga
  • Saidi Kyeyune
  • Cromwell Rwothomio
  • Brian Majwega
  • Joackim Ojera

Match 16: URA FC 2-0 SC Villa

Goals scored by Michael Birungi and Daniel Isiagi

URA FC Starting XI

  • Nafian Alionzi
  • Ashraf Mandela
  • Yesseri Waibi
  • Hudu Mulikyi
  • Benjamin Nyakojo
  • Julius Mutyaba
  • Shafik Kagimu
  • Saidi Kyeyune
  • Daniel Isiagi
  • Mikidadi Ssenyonga
  • Joackim Ojera

Match 17: BUL FC 1-3 URA FC

Goals scored by Saidi Kyeyune and Cromwell Rwothomio (Brace)

URA FC Starting XI

  • Nafian Alionzi
  • Ashraf Mandela
  • Yesseri Waibi
  • Hudu Mulikyi
  • Benjamin Nyakojo
  • Julius Mutyaba
  • Shafik Kagimu
  • Saidi Kyeyune
  • Cromwell Rwothomio
  • Michael Birungi
  • Joackim Ojera

Match 18: URA FC 1-0 Bright Stars FC

Goal scored by Cromwell Rwothomio

URA FC Starting XI

  • Nafian Alionzi
  • Ashraf Mandela
  • Brian Majwega
  • Hudu Mulikyi
  • Benjamin Nyakojo
  • Julius Mutyaba
  • Shafik Kagimu
  • Saidi Kyeyune
  • Cromwell Rwothomio
  • Michael Birungi
  • Joackim Ojera

Match 19: Tooro United 1-1 FC URA FC

Goal scored by Michael Birungi

URA FC Starting XI

  • Nafian Alionzi
  • Hudu Mulyiki
  • Brian Majwega
  • Paul Mbowa
  • Benjamin Nyakojo
  • Julius Mutyaba
  • Ivan Sseubiri
  • Shafik Kagimu
  • Saidi Kyeyune
  • Cromwell Rwothomio
  • Michael Birungi

Match 20: URA FC 2-1 KCCA FC

Goals scored by Saidi Kyeyune and Cromwell Rwothomio

URA FC Starting XI

  • Nafian Alionzi
  • Ashraf Mandela
  • Yesseri Waibi
  • Paul Mbowa
  • Benjamin Nyakojo
  • Julius Mutyaba
  • Shafik Kagimu
  • Saidi Kyeyune
  • Cromwell Rwothomio
  • Brian Majwega
  • Joackim Ojera

Match 21: Kyetume FC 1-1 URA FC

Goal scored by Saidi Kyeyune

URA FC Starting XI

  • Nafian Alionzi
  • Ashraf Mandela
  • Brian Majwega
  • Paul Mbowa
  • Benjamin Nyakojo
  • Ivan Sserubiri
  • Shafik Kagimu
  • Saidi Kyeyune
  • Cromwell Rwothomio
  • Michael Birungi
  • Joackim Ojera

Match 22: Busoga United FC 3-0 URA FC

URA FC Starting XI

  • Nafian Alionzi
  • Ashraf Mandela
  • Brian Majwega
  • Paul Mbowa
  • Benjamin Nyakojo
  • Julius Mutyaba
  • Shafik Kagimu
  • Saidi Kyeyune
  • Cromwell Rwothomio
  • Michael Birungi
  • Joackim Ojera

Match 23: URA FC 3-1 Vipers SC

Goals scored by Saidi Kyeyune, Daniel Isiagi and Cromwell Rwothomio

URA FC Starting XI

  • Nafian Alionzi
  • Ashraf Mandela
  • Brian Majwega
  • Hudu Mulikyi
  • Benjamin Nyakojo
  • Ivan Sserubiri
  • Shafik Kagimu
  • Saidi Kyeyune
  • Daniel Isiagi
  • Michael Birungi
  • Joackim Ojera

Match 24: Express FC 1-2 URA FC

Goals scored by Mikidadi Ssenyonga and Anwar Ntege

URA FC Starting XI

  • Nafian Alionzi
  • Ashraf Mandela
  • Brian Majwega
  • Hudu Mulikyi
  • Benjamin Nyakojo
  • Julius Mutyaba
  • Shafik Kagimu
  • Saidi Kyeyune
  • Daniel Isiagi
  • Mikidadi Ssenyonga
  • Michael Birungi

Match 25: URA FC 1-2 Police FC

Goal scored by Hassan Kalega

URA FC Starting XI

  • Nafian Alionzi
  • Ashraf Mandela
  • Brian Majwega
  • Paul Mbowa
  • Benjamin Nyakojo
  • Hassan Kalega
  • Shafik Kagimu
  • Saidi Kyeyune
  • Daniel Isiagi
  • Michael Birungi
  • Joackim Ojera

Joel Muyita

Joel Muyita is a senior staff writer at Kawowo Sports.

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