Mbarara City players in a talk session during a league match Credit: John Batanudde

The battle for relegation looks set to go right down to the wire with at least 9-teams ready to fight it out to escape the drop.

Thirty three points is the Uganda Premier League barometer for safety and over the last nine seasons, only three teams have finished with fewer points and survived and only once when all 30 games were played: Entebbe FC (2012/13, 28 pts).

The other – Police (2019/20, 25 pts) and Busoga United (2020/21, 26 pts) with the season finishing at 25 and 26 games played respectively.

So who has to play who, who looks like heading for the drop and who will ensure they survive another season in the top-flight?

Let’s take a look….

GADDAFI FC

Gaddafi players celebrate their late victory Credit: John Batanudde
  • Position: 8th
  • Points: 27
  • Played: 22
  • Goal Difference: -5

Remaining Fixtures

  • March 29: UPDF (h)
  • April 06: Arua Hill (a)
  • April 15: Bul (h)
  • April 20: Vipers (a)
  • April 30: Soltilo Bright Stars (a)
  • May 06: Tooro United (h)
  • May 14: KCCA (h)
  • May 21: Busoga United (a)

Looking at the Soldier Boys remaining fixtures, you can definitely see them picking up at least six points along the way.

They face strugglers Tooro United, Busoga United, Soltilo Bright Stars and UPDF during their last eight games, and with at least two of them at home, they should be fine.

Some tricky ties away to Vipers and at home to KCCA will mean it could still go wrong but the newcomers have done enough throughout the course of the season to remain in the top-flight.

POLICE FC

Police need at least nine points to beat the drop Credit: John Batanudde
  • Position: 9th
  • Points: 24
  • Played: 22
  • Goal Difference: 1

Remaining Fixtures

  • March 29: Express FC (a)
  • April 07: Onduparaka (h)
  • April 12: Mbarara City (a)
  • April 22: URA (h)
  • May 02: SC Villa (h)
  • May 07: Wakiso Giants (a)
  • May 14: BUL (h)
  • May 21: Vipers (a)

The Cops had an uncharacteristically a very poor start to the season where they lost six games on the spin and sat at the bottom of the table.

But they turned the campaign around have lost just twice in the last 16 games to climb to where they are on the table now.

But they have a very tough run in as compared to their fellow strugglers as six of the teams they face are in the top half of the table.

From the side below them, only Mbarara City (away) and Onduparaka (home) are their opponents and both are tricky clients.

ONDUPARAKA FC

Ondu
  • Position: 10th
  • Points: 24
  • Played: 22
  • Goal Difference: -3

Remaining Fixtures

  • April 08: Police (a)
  • April 13: SC Villa (h)
  • April 22: Express (a)
  • April 30: BUL (a)
  • May 03: Vipers (h)
  • May 07: Arua Hill (h)
  • May 14: Soltilo Bright Stars (h)
  • May 21: UPDF (a)

The Caterpillars need at least nine points to beat the drop but have some tough remaining fixtures.

They have been inconsistent but picking wins off Mbarara City and Wakiso Giants will surely give them belief they can survive.

Games against Express, Vipers and BUL are potential banana skins but Ondu must ensure they don’t drop points in fixtures involving sides they are fighting with.

That’s away to Police and at home to SC Villa and Soltilo Bright Stars.

UPDF

UPDF could need divine intervention to survive Credit: John Batanudde
  • Position: 11th
  • Points: 24
  • Played: 22
  • Goal Difference: -10

Remaining Fixtures

  • March 29: Gaddafi (a)
  • April 05: KCCA (h)
  • April 12: Busoga United (a)
  • April 19: Tooro United (h)
  • April 29: URA (h)
  • May 08: Mbarara City (a)
  • May 14: Express FC (a)
  • May 21: Onduparaka (h)

The army side have not won in a more than a dozen games on the bounce and it’s hard to imagine where they could be had they started the season as bad as other sides in the fight for relegation zone.

Fortunately, among their remaining fixtures, only three pits them against sides above them which means they have a very good chance to stay up if they wrestle sides in their same category.

SC VILLA

Villa players cant afford these smiles any more in the league
  • Position: 12th
  • Points: 22
  • Played: 22
  • Goal Difference: -5

Remaining Fixtures

  • March 30: Wakiso Giants (a)
  • April 09: Express FC (h)
  • April 13: Onduparaka (a)
  • April 19: Mbarara City (h)
  • May 02: Police (a)
  • May 07: Vipers (h)
  • May 13: Arua Hill (h)
  • May 21: BUL (a)

It’s the second season in previous four that SC Villa are in the same predicament.

Their major undoing has been failure to overcome sides below or in the same category as them at the moment.

Looking at their remaining fixtures, the Jogoos have their work cut-out if they are to survive.

BUSOGA UNITED

Busoga United (Credit: David Isabirye)
  • Position: 13th
  • Points: 22
  • Played: 22
  • Goal Difference: –16

Remaining Fixtures

  • March 30: Tooro United (h)
  • April 06: Soltilo Bright Stars (a)
  • April 12: UPDF (h)
  • April 19: Arua Hill (a)
  • May 02: Wakiso Giants (h)
  • May 07: KCCA (a)
  • May 14: URA (a)
  • May 21: Gaddafi (h)

Busoga United fans would have been looking at the fixtures at the start of the second round and pinpointed the games against KCCA and URA as critical.

Throw in the fact they’ll play tricky Arua Hill and Wakiso Giants before those two games, they’ll be thankful safety ought to be secured by then.

Games against Tooro United and UPDF is where they’ll look to pick up points, but it’s a pretty daunting last eight-games for Peter Kikomeko’s side and if things go wrong, they may go very, very wrong.

SOLTILO BRIGHT STARS

Will Kasinde and company afford to smile at the end of the season? Credit: John Batanudde
  • Position: 14th
  • Points: 20
  • Played: 22
  • Goal Difference: -12

Remaining Fixtures

  • April 06: Busoga United (h)
  • April 13: Tooro United (a)
  • April 20: Wakiso Giants (h)
  • April 30: Gaddafi FC (h)
  • May 03: KCCA (a)
  • May 07: URA (a)
  • May 14: Onduparaka (a)
  • May 21: Mbarara City (h)

Paul Kiwanuka’s side have arguably the easiest fixture of all teams involved in this relegation fight.

Some real six pointers remain for the Stars, with the Busoga United Tooro United, Gaddafi and Mbarara City games all going to be crucial.

They’ve toyed with the drop over the years, it may just be all too much for them now – but they should just be okay.

MBARARA CITY

Mbarara City XI against KCCA Credit: John Batanudde
  • Position: 15th
  • Points: 18
  • Played: 22
  • Goal Difference: -10

Remaining Fixtures

  • March 28: BUL FC (h)
  • April 05: Vipers SC (a)
  • April 12: Police (h)
  • April 19: SC Villa (a)
  • May 01: Arua Hill (a)
  • May 08: UPDF (h)
  • May 14: Tooro United (h)
  • May 21: Soltilo Bright Stars (a)

Going into the season, not a lot of people thought Mbarara City would be involved in the relegation scuffle at the moment.

Besides BUL, Arua Hill and Vipers, who are not in the relegation fight, the rest of their games are against teams around them in the table.

It’s not going to be easy for them to stay up, but they have a relatively easy fixture with over five relegation six pointers.

TOORO UNITED

Ibrahim Kirya, Tooro United head coach
  • Position: 16th
  • Points: 10
  • Played: 22
  • Goal Difference: -35

Remaining Fixtures

  • March 30: Gaddafi (a)
  • April 10: Wakiso Giants (h)
  • April 13: Soltilo Bright Stars (h)
  • April 19: UPDF (a)
  • April 29: KCCA FC (h)
  • May 06: Gaddafi (a)
  • May 14: Mbarara City (a)
  • May 21: URA (h)

With just 10 points, it looks like the damage has already been done for the ‘Entale Za Tooro’. It’s hard to see where they’ll pick up enough points to overtake the teams around them, and having still to face KCCA and URA can’t help.

Tooro United have been unlucky this season – losing several players in the window before recruiting Ibrahim Kiirya came in and they also lost three valuable points after beating Vipers SC.

Senior Staff writer at Kawowo Sports mainly covering football

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