Log in
Updated an hour ago

Uganda Premier League: the good, bad and ugly

Kitara FC striker Dennis Omedi (L) in action against SC Villa

Kitara FC striker Dennis Omedi (L) in action against SC Villa

The 2023/24 StarTimes Uganda Premier League season comes to a close on Saturday, May 18 when the ultimate winner and the losers will be decided.

The season, which kicked off last September, has been a long one, and therefore, consistency was paramount in marking out the good, bad and ugly as JOHN VIANNEY NSIMBE reports.

The Best coach

The history of the SUPL over the years has shown that newly-promoted sides tend to get relegated. Yet, Kitara FC, Fufa Big League champions 2022/23, and NEC FC, the second runners-up then, have defied the odds. Instead of being in the lower half of the division, slugging it out to avoid the drop, they have been in the mix with the establishment for honours.

In fact, the two sides will be contesting the Stanbic Uganda Cup final on May 25. So, credit ought to go to their coaches, Hussein Mbalangu (NEC) and Brian Ssenyondo (Kitara). The SUPL coach of the season award is unlikely to be far-fetched for these individuals.

However, also in contention is the Bul FC coach, Abbey Kikomeko, who led to the Fufa Super 8 trophy, the precursor tournament to the league. He also engineered his team’s run to the Uganda Cup semi-final, but before which, he had inspired his charges to beating pre-season title favourites, Vipers SC, KCCA FC and SC Villa in the league.

Bul is the first upcountry side to pull off such a feat in over 40 years. And if his side can hang in there and win its two remaining games, then he will be the man! On the other hand, SC Villa’s Serbian tactician, Dusan Stojanovic inherited a team that had lost key players from the side that lost the league title on the final day of the 2022/23 season.

Standout Players

Yet, not only is Villa a shoo-in to win the title this time, Stojanovic, who was a largely unknown when he arrived, has made the Jogoos play possibly the best football in the division.

Speaking of players, Villa’s winger Jonah Kakande and number ten, Umar Lutalo have been impressive. This is not only because of the goals they have scored (eight and seven respectively) but the level of game understanding that they have showcased. They look the real deal if they can maintain the same level for seasons to come.

At the same time, Villa’s captain, Kenneth Semakula has grown in leaps and bounds. While his leadership remains out there for the jury, his passing as a midfielder, tackling and defending at centre-half has looked more assured.

Kitara’s Dennis Omedi has proved to be a breakthrough star this season. As one of the leading marksmen, he is a major factor in Kitara’s unlikely surge this season. This is widely because of his added ability to keep defences busy, but also create goals for teammates.

Omedi is probably the SUPL footballer of the year. His rise from the Big League to the top flight is fairytale stuff. It is also a mark of his consistency for two seasons running. Notably, his teammate, Living Kabon is proof that once a player is an organized setting, they thrive.

Kabon, like many other players, struggled at URA FC last season. But since moving to Kitara, he has proved to be re-born, showcasing a confidence that has seen him possibly score more last-gasp goals than any other player in the division. He did it against URA in the first round, and most recently, the added time winners against Express and Busoga United.

Best Eleven

Perhaps, it is here that things can get a bit feisty and tough, because quite a number of players have given a good account of themselves even against the odds.

But the following make our best eleven: 1. Crispus Kusiima (Kitara), 2. Christopher Kamagu (UPDF), 3. Issa Mubiru (Vipers), 4. Ronald Otti (Bul), 5. Kenneth Semakula (SC Villa), 6. Joel Serunjogi (KCCA), 7. Dennis Omedi (Kitara), 8. Norman Namanya (URA), 9. Muhammad Shaban (KCCA), 10. Umar Lutalo (SC Villa) and 11. Jonah Kakande (SC Villa).

Nonetheless, special mention goes out to other impressive performers such as Nelson Senkatuka and Fiat Cleophas of Bright Stars, Etienne Katenga (KCCA FC), Allan Mugalu and Rashid Okocha (NEC FC), goalkeeper Richard Anyama of UPDF FC, midfielder Frank Katongole and goalkeeper Jack Komakech both of Vipers.

The Villains

A number of referees have been suspended for the mistakes they have made in games. But also, a number of players that were expected to do well, yet did not, cannot be overlooked. For example, Derrick Ochan and Mustafa Kizza both of KCCA, Yunus Ssentamu and Bright Anukani, both of Vipers, Enoch Walusimbi, Najib Fesali and Hassan Kalega of URA, Issa Lumu of Express, and Joel Madondo of Bul FC.

Comments are now closed for this entry