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SC Villa crowned 2024 Uganda Premier League champions

A wave of joy on Saturday evening swept through MTN Omondi Stadium as SC Villa were crowned champions of the 2024 Star Times Uganda Premier League for the 17th time.

Two second-half goals from Charles Lwanga and Hakim Kiwanuka helped the Jogoos to overcome NEC and secure the 2024 title. Fans and the Villa players had waited for this moment for two decades, with their last league victory dating back to 2004 when many of the current players were just children.

At halftime, the atmosphere in the stadium was nervous as the score stood at 0-0, a result that would have handed the trophy to Villa’s closest rivals, BUL, who were leading Busoga United. Villa entered the game leading the standings with 54 points, closely followed by BUL FC and Vipers SC, both with 53 points and Kitara FC with 51 points.

Villa needed a victory to secure the championship regardless of the result elsewhere. Fans fervently hoped for Villa to score, fearing a repeat of last season’s heartbreak when they lost the league title on the final day to Vipers. They had entered the final day as leaders with 52 points but suffered a 1-0 defeat to Uganda Revenue Authority at Mutesa II Stadium in Wankulukuku.

In that season, Villa needed a win against URA to clinch the title, while Vipers and KCCA, both with 50 points, were also in the hunt. Villa ended up finishing third with 52 points after KCCA defeated Bright Stars to claim second place with Vipers winning the title on goal difference, having matched KCCA’s 53 points after beating Busoga United.

But this time, all Villa fans' fears were alleviated in the second half when Lwanga netted the first goal, followed by Kiwanuka's strike, sealing the victory. Euphoria erupted at full time as hundreds of Villa fans breached stadium barriers and fences, pouring onto the pitch to celebrate with their heroes.

The MTN Omondi Stadium was a sea of blue, with fans chanting “Villa Joogo, twambala blue netujoogera omwo abantu,” one of their famous chants. Prominent Villa supporters, including Katikiro of Buganda Charles Peter Mayiga, club president Omar Mandela, and former Uganda Cranes head coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojević, were seen celebrating from the VVIP section.

The trophy presentation was delayed for nearly an hour as security officials negotiated with the jubilant Villa fans to clear the pitch for the awards ceremony. The organizing committee, which had initially planned to deliver the trophy directly to the pitch via helicopter, had to alter their plans, landing the chopper outside the stadium instead.

Speaking to URN on the sidelines, Villa captain Kenneth Ssemakula thanked his teammates for having learned from the previous mistakes and fought hard to win this year’s silverware.

“We thank God that we brought back SC Villa’s respect. We learned from the mistakes of last season and did everything to secure this year's trophy," he said briefly.

Micho, who is also a former Villa coach, hailed the current Villa coach for the style of play and resilience he instilled in the players and also thanked fans for supporting the team even during hard times.

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