A lot has been said about SC Villa’s slow start to the 2018/2019 Uganda Premier League season. Until last week’s 1-0 win over fellow strugglers Nyamityobora FC, the Jogoos had spent the season languishing in the relegation zone without a win.
This is in sharp contrast to the recent Villa side that has not finished outside the top three for the last four years. At the moment, that looks a distant possibility with most of the effort now geared towards steering safely away from the drop. How times change!
Even with that Nyamityobora victory, it is hard to see Villa rising up to the lofty heights expected of a 16-time league champion. In fact, going by the off-field distractions, the situation may get worse before it gets better.
The William Nkemba-led Villa executive has been on the back foot since taking over reins from Ben Misagga, who stepped aside to join forces with Nyamityobora but if there is one thing Nkemba and company need to learn from Misagga, it is that Villa needs to act like a giant on and off the pitch.
It can be argued that the club is now undergoing a rebuilding process administratively and technically but that doesn’t take away the fact that this is Villa, supposedly the biggest club in the land.
That is why I find it inexcusable to have an unbalanced squad fighting against relegation instead of aiming for the title. As things stand, the Jogoos are just three points away from safety while at the same time are 14 points behind leaders KCCA FC.
Granted that several of the playing staff departed at the end of last season, Villa has the technical and financial capacity to rebuild almost instantly. At the moment, Ambrose Kirya is the only experienced player who has been consistent. In Savio Kabugo, Villa acquired a good but injury-prone player who cannot play week in, week out. What worries me most is the reliance on journeymen, many of whom are outcasts such as Manco Kaweesa, Mike Serumaga and Habib Kavuma.
The 2-3 loss to KCCA is testament to how this Villa side has a long way to go. Villa played quite impressively in that game and twice took the lead before KCCA’s resoluteness triumphed. I cannot see how the old Villa would have relinquished that lead twice on a day KCCA was horrible in all departments.
Not even the change of coach from experienced Moses Basena to Douglas Bamweyana is likely to change the club fortunes. Between 1995 and 1998, the Villa new executive was under pressure to live up to the Patrick Kawooya days and as the side struggled for titles, coaches bore the brunt as sacrificial lambs.
The likes of David Otti, Timothy Ayiekoh, Eddie Butindo and Otti (II) were hired and fired in quick succession until the club strengthened the squad to match the KCC and Express teams.
The arrival of Paul Hasule in 1998 was preceded by the signing of top prospects such as Hassan Mubiru, Andrew Mukasa, Joseph Mutyaba and Hakim Magumba, and Villa never looked back. Today, it is hard to pick out one Villa players who can make the bench in either Vipers or KCCA. So, until the club sorts out the playing staff, my fear is that fans are going to endure a long season based on survival that contention.
Last week, the football fraternity bid farewell to KCCA diehard Jimmy Kiwanuka, popularly known as Kabubbu. Renowned for his elegance, Kabubbu has been a key figure in KCCA and until a few weeks ago, he attended club games at Lugogo and often expressed his opinion on technical aspects of the game. He passed away on November 29.
In my life, there are few people I have met with an unquenchable football passion like Kabubbu, a person I have known since the seventies as one of the club supporters; he was rich and generously supported players. He was also very vocal and never shied away from expressing his views regarding the team’s performance.
It was in 1979 that Kabubbu first came into the limelight as a KCCA committee member. Also a member of the club technical committee, Kabubbu always had a reserved seat on the bench and later came to be known by his own catchword ‘Mark space,’ which he shouted to the players, especially when KCC was on the back foot.
He served as club vice chairman from 1984 to 1986 before bouncing back in the same position between 1989 and 1992. He rebounded as vice chairman – Administration in 2003 but quit in 2005 to remain a club fan.