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How Bunamwaya became Ugandan football kings

With Express losing 1-0 to KCC, Bunamwaya’s 2-0 win over Villa on Saturday meant they are the 2009/2010 Super League champions. This was in many ways a work in progress as JOHN VIANNEY NSIMBE writes In 2006 when Bunamwaya was promoted to the Super League, they struggled to stave off relegation. Of course there were allegations at the time that they only managed to remain in the league because the Federation of Uganda Football Association (FUFA) President, Lawrence Mulindwa was their Patron.
Apparently, matches were fixed and referees worked under instruction to make sure the President’s team wasn’t relegated. But Haruna Kyobe, the team’s spokesman said then that wasn’t true. And that such talk was because people were envious of the team’s attachment to the FUFA President. His argument was that such were unfounded claims from the FUFA President’s opponents.
Well, few would believe Kyobe’s defence and season after season, Bunamwaya was becoming public enemy number one. But Kyobe and his chairman, Thadeus Kitandwe weren’t about to be destructed from their dream of turning Bunamwaya into a giant in the Super League despite public ridicule.
As a result, the club decided to recruit the crème de la’creme in terms of football players and coaches. They started by bringing in Charles Ayiekoh as coach to replace Charles Katumba. Ayiekoh had been assistant coach to Asuman Lubowa in the 2005 when Police won the Super League title.
The experience of Ayiekoh was meant to lift Bunamwaya. In fact, Ayiekoh had come in with one of his loyal performers at Police, midfielder, Robert Kimuli, Bunamwaya’s Captain today to add the winning mentality.
Top and youthful players like Yuda Mugalu, Ayub Kisalita, Tony Odur, Edward Ssali, Boban Zirintusa, Ronald Muganga and Julius Mulindwa were recruited from known giant teams like Express and Villa. Goalkeeper Hamza Muwonge joined from Simba as one of the best young goalkeepers around.
St. Mary’s Kitende secondary school provided a good basis on which a number of Bunamwaya’s players were groomed. For example Habib Kavuma, Mulindwa and Muganga among others. Many of them did well at the Copa Coca-Cola; something that they brought to Bunamwaya too.
Right from school, these players were being trained by Richard Wasswa and Edward Golola, the current Bunamwaya coaches. Previously, these two worked as interim coaches of Bunamwaya when for any reason they had no coach. They’ve only taken full charge this season after Jackson Mayanja was sacked before the end of the 2008/2009 season.
Mayanja had been hired for his experience as a talismanic player who enjoyed success at KCC and even played professional football in Egypt at El-Masry club. The club went on to acquire Owen Kasule, a league winner at KCC in 2008 and a burgeoning talent in forward, Caesar Okhuti from Ediofe FC for Shs 12 million. That was a statement of intent.
In fact seven of the players that helped The Cranes qualify for the Africa Nations Championship in Sudan next year are from Bunamwaya. So, Golola, a seemingly astute tactician told The Observer earlier in the season that his team is as good as any top one in the league. “We’ve good enough players that can win us things,” he said. And they’ve done exactly that!  

jovi@observer.ug

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