The 2020/21 StarTimes Uganda Premier League could have more players returning from stints abroad than before but the key question remains – can they lit up the season?
Tonny Mawejje (Police), Murushid Jjuuko (Express) and now Yunus Sentamu (Vipers) are all back with the former two featuring in games already before the league took a break.
Earlier, Milton Karisa and Muhammad Shaban had also joined Vipers from failed stints in Morocco with the latter only making his debut in this season despite joining a season earlier.
Unlike Mawejje whose career abroad has lasted more than a decade, the rest have had short stints and have a lot of unfinished business – many targeting a return to pro-stints.
Mawejje could be seen as one experienced lad whose return to domestic football will greatly help youngsters pick valuable lessons in professionalism.
A career that spans over 15 years on the national team with top discipline and consistent performances put him above the rest of the returnees and targets retirement from home.
For others, the UPL is a springboard to reignite their careers and attract suitors from abroad.
Players like Sentamu, Jjuuko, Karisa, Shaban and Iguma still have good years ahead of them but can they offer what their predecessors Nestroy Kizito (SC Victoria University), Hassan Wasswa (SC Villa and Vipers), Steven Bengo (URA, SC Villa, Express, KCCA and Wakiso Giants), Hamis Kiiza (Vipers and URA), Keziron Kizito (KCCA), Vincent Kayizzi (Express, KCCA, Vipers and Kyetume), Kirizestom Ntambi (Wakiso Giants), Erisa Ssekisambu (KCCA), Brian Umony (KCCA, Proline and Express) and Patrick Ochan (URA) among others failed?
Recently, only Joseph Ochaya (KCCA) did well on returning from Ghana’s Asante Kotoko helping the club to win league titles and also get into the group stages of the Caf Confederation Cup.
The last player to fully light up the league was Jackson ‘Mia Mia’ Mayanja when he opted to play for KCCA again on return from Tunisia’s Esperance.
The midfield gem, regarded as one of the best players to come from Uganda truly lived to his billing with his goals guiding the Kasasiro to the 1997 league title.
For now, we sit back and watch as returnees grab the headlines either for the wrong or right reasons.