The Uganda Premier League (despite change in names) has been played since 1968 when it was introduced as the maiden national league. Since then, just 11 teams have managed to win the championship with SC Villa clinching it a record 16 times.
Teams that have won the league
- Prisons/ Maroons – 1968 and 1969
- Coffee – 1970
- Simba/UPDF FC – 1971 and 1978
- Express FC – 1974, 1974, 1993, 1995, 1996, 2012
- KCC/KCCA FC – 1976, 1977, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1991, 1997, 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2019
- UCB – 1979
- Nile FC – 1980
- SC Villa – 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
- Police FC – 2005
- URA FC – 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011
- Bunamwaya/ Vipers SC – 2010, 2015 and 2018
Hundreds of players have featured in the league since its inception with some taking on coaching after their playing career. However, only a handful have gone on to achieve the feat of the championship both as a coach and player.
In this article, Kawowo Sports’ Joel Muyita looks at the 14 people who have won the Uganda Premier League both as coaches and players.
- David Otti (RIP)
He is without a doubt the best coach to grace Ugandan football and arguably the best in the East African region.
Having played for UEB and Bitumastic FC in the early 1960’s, Otti moved to Coffee FC in 1966, a team that was built on the strong leadership of Henry Balamaze Lwanga. By the team the national league started two years later, Coffee FC had a formidable team to compete after attracting good players like Jhn Dibya, Denis Obua, Polly Ouma and Francis Kulabigwo among others.
The first seasonin 1968 saw them finish third behind Uganda Army (Simba) and eventual winners Prisons FC. They even dropped further in the next season settling for 6th position.
Coffee FC however bounced back stronger in 1970 to emerge champions under David Otti who was a coach-player at the time. They edged Police FC to the title after both teams finished with 27 points but Coffee FC won it with a better goal difference.
This success introduced Otti to the coaching career where he went on to be successful, winning several titles.
When Uganda Cranes coach Burkard Pape left in 1973, Otti took on the mantle guiding the team to winning the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup. He would go on to lead the team to 1974 Africa Cup of Nations.
He took over Simba FC in 1976 and helped them to win the league two years later.
Otti went ahead to win the league title at SC Villa and Express FC in 1984 and 1993 respectively.
- Natal Mwaka (RIP)
He guided Nile FC to their only league triumph in 1980, operating as a coach-player.
When Jinja Hot Stars won promotion to the league in 1977, they were sold off to Nile Breweries and consequently the name changed to Nile FC.
The managerial change saw a massive recruitment of players to beef up the squad and indeed, they took the league by storm in their debut season, finishing third.
At the start of the 1979 season, Mwaka was appointed the coach but at the same time was still an active player. Still they finished third.
They returned stronger the next season and saw off stiff competition from Nytil FC to win the 1980 league title.
- George Mukasa
Until today, he is the only former goalkeeper who has won the league as a coach. Fred Kajjoba is likely to attain the same feat if the league resumes and Vipers SC are crowned champions.
Mukasa arrived at Express FC in 1969 but because the Red Eagles already had Joseph Masajjage who was already on the national team, it became hard for Mukasa to find playing time. Therefore, this prompted him to join KCC in 1972 then still in the lower division.
He was a cornerstone to KCC winning their first league title in 1976 under the guidance of Bidandi Ssali. They went again to successfully defend it in the following season.
After returning from Ethipioa in 1979 where he had attended a CAF coaching license, Mukasa was appointed the coach of City Cubs, a feeder team to the KCC senior team.
He oversaw a number of young players promoted to the senior team and it is from here that SC Villa saw his abilities, appointing him as the head coach in 1982.
SC Villa went ahead to win their first league title in style after ending the campaign unbeaten, a record that stands up to now.
- Moses Nsereko (RIP)
He was christened ‘Master Planner’ because of his intelligence and sense of positioning. However, some referred to him as ‘Kisolo Ky’amanyi’ due to his physical prowess.
It is believed, Nsereko joined KCC at the age of 14. He was one of the players that helped the team gain promotion to the top tier league in 1974.
When KCC won the league in 1976, he was arguably their best player scoring 13 goals. He was also influential as they retained the league the next season (1977) scoring 7 goals.
In 1978 when Uganda reached Africa Cup of Nations final, Nsereko was one of the star players for the Cranes and was named on the team of the tournament.
At KCC, Nsereko won 4 league titles as a player that is in 1976, 1977, 1981 and 1983.
Bidandi had become a very busy man having been appointed a Minister and thus KCC named a person to take on the mantle. When Nsereko decided to retire in 1984, he was appointed the new coach.
He led the Lugogo based side to league success in 1985 and served the club up to February 1987.
- Polly Ouma
He is the first coach to win a domestic double (winning the league and Uganda Cup in the same season). He achieved this while in charge of SC Villa in 1986.
Ouma was the top scorer with 18 goals as Simba FC won their first league title in 1971. He is actually regarded as one of the best strikers ever to grace Ugandan football.
He was also a key player for the national team, scoring several important goals including the equaliser against Algeria that helped Uganda to qualify for the 1974 Africa Cup of Nations.
As a coach, Ouma won two league title with SC Villa in 1986 and 1987.
- Tom Lwanga
He joined KCC from Fiat FC after in 1972 after a friendly game between the two teams. At KCC, Bidandi Ssali converted him from a winger to a centre back.
He formed a strong partnership with Jimmy Kirunda and helped KCC to win the league in 1976 and 1977.
After a stint in United Arab Emirates, Lwanga returned and won the league for the third time at KCC in 1985.
When Nsereko resigned in 1987, Lwanga and John Latigo were appointed as joint coaches. However, Latigo moved to Europe, leaving Lwanga as the head coach. He was replaced by Polly Ouma in 1989.
He bounced back in 1990 and helped the team to win the controversial league in 1991.
With 5 games to the end of the season in 1997, Mike Mutebi resigned at KCC and Lwanga was called on to replace him. He helped the team to eventually win that year’s championship, his second as a coach.
- Timothy Ayiekoh (RIP)
Started his playing career in 1970 at Nakivubo Boys before joining NIC. It is from here that he moved to Express FC in 1974 where he won the league on two occasions.
Ayiekoh then crossed over to KCC and won the championship in 1976 and 1977.
As a coach, he won two league titles both coming at SC Villa in 1992 and 1994.
- Jimmy Muguwa
Born in Kenya, Muguwa moved to Uganda in 1970 and joined Lint FC a year later.
He later moved to UCB where he became a better player and helped the team to win promotion in 1976. Two years later, Muguwa scored 24 goals in the league, finishing second behind Jimmy Kirunda who had scored 32.
When UCB won the league title in 1979, Muguwa was one of the players alongside Fred Musisi Kiyingi, Sam Okiror and Fred Sserwadda.
He later moved to Express FC when he retired in 1987. In the same year, he enrolled for a coaching course in Germany and returned to Wankulukuku to deputised David Otti. When the latter moved to SC Villa in 1995, Muguwa was named the head coach and helped the Red Eagles to win the league.
- Paul Hasule (RIP)
Nicknamed V8 in reference to Toyota Land cruiser V8, Paul Hasule is regarded as Uganda’s best right back ever.
He joined SC Villa from Gangama FC and became a key pillar in SC Villa’s success both as a player and coach.
As a player, he was part of the team that won the 1982 league unbeaten. He went ahead to win six other league titles before retiring in 1993.
He first worked under British coach Geoff Hudson but decided to seek independence moving to State House FC and Simba FC.
Hasule returned to Villa park in 1998 and went ahead to guide the team to three successive league titles before leaving in 2001.
- Moses Basena
He started his playing career in Walukuba, Jinja and would go on to feature for Tobacco FC later named Blue Bats FC.
The withdraw of sponsorship by the company to the club in 1988 saw a mass exodus of players including Steven Bogere.
He joined Coffee FC which was under Sam Timbe then and had several good players such as Obadiah Semakula, Vincent Semanobe, Mathias Kaweesa, Isa Sekatawa, George Serunjogi, John Buga and Ibrahim Buwembo.
However, he only got to lift the league as a player in 1992 after joining SC Villa where he played for two years before returning to Coffee FC where he retired in 1997.
Although the 2001 league title for SC Villa is hugely credited to Hasule, Basena who was his deputy at the time remained in charge after Hasule was sacked.
At the time, SC Villa appointed Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic to replace Hasule with Basena as his assistant but he would later move to Simba.
Basena also guided URA FC to winning the league in the 2008/2009 season.
- Deo Sserwadda
Populary named Kanjabiya (Panga) because of his playing style that involved a lot of tackling, Sserwadda who mainly played as a left back at SC Villa was part of the team that won several league titles in the early 2000s.
He helped URA FC to win promotion to the top tier league then called URA-Lyantonde FC and went ahead to guide them to their first league title in 2006.
- George Nsimbe
He was spotted by Moses Nsereko and joined KCC in 1984 where we went ahead to win three league titles before retiring in 1995.
After retiring, he concentrated on working with the KCC engineering department until when Jackson Mayanja made him hi assistant in 2007. When Mayanja left and joined Bunamwaya, Nsimbe worked with Moses Basena as his assistant.
He went ahead to guide KCC to league success in the 2007/2008 season.
After stints elsewhere, the soft spoken tactician returned to Lugogo and won two more league titles in 2012/13 and 2013/14 seasons.
- Alex Isabirye
A brother to Steven Bogere, Isabirye also grew up in Walukuba, Jinja and went on to play even for the Uganda Cranes.
As a player, he won the league title at SC Villa in 2003 and 2004 under coach Micho. Even when he moved to URA FC, Isabirye won the league in 2007 and 2009.
It is at the same club that he managed to win the league title as a coach in 2011.
- Sam Ssimbwa
He is the last person to achieve the feat of winning the Uganda Premier League both as a player and coach.
Ssimbwa broke the scene at KK Cosmos FC while still studying at Kibuli SS. It is from here that he joined KCC in 1987 and was part of the team that won the league in 1991.
He retired in 1996 and enrolled for a coaching course in Germany and returned to coach a number of teams.
In 2012, Ssimbwa working with a youthful squad guided Express FC to league success, putting an end to a 16-year dry spell.
Additional information from Hassan Badru Zziwa, Swaib Kanyike and Tendo Musoke