Police maintained a one point lead over KCCA at the top of the Azam Uganda Premier League with a hard fought 1-0 away win against struggling Express at Wankulukuku on Tuesday.
The Cops have accumulated 23 points from 12 games, one more than nearest challengers KCCA and Villa who have played a game less (before Friday’s games).
Their performance this season is seen as a surprise to many with the club having collected a paltry 11 points at the same stage last season and narrowly survived relegation on the final day.
Yet following that close escape, club chairman Asan Kasingye entrusted coach Abdallah Mubiru with powers to make a complete overhaul of the playing staff and organization at the club.
The changes are starting to beat fruit for the 2005 champions.
In line with Mubiru’s approach of fast attacking football and need for professionalism, the coach pursued players with unfulfilled potential in addition to the existing squad.
In came Juma Balinya, Yasin Mugume, Gift Ali, Aggrey Madoi and Norman Ogik, Martin Mpuuga to complement Hood Kaweesa, Ben Ochen and Rahmat Ssenfuka among others. Unlike under previous coach Sam Timbe where players complained of a distant relationship, Mubiru has gone for a different management style where he engages with players in one on one discussions before games.
In addition to the flair, the team appears to have added a never say die attitude that has now seen them claim a league eight points from a losing position.
Saturday’s 2-1 over URA win was the fourth time they had come from behind to pick at least a point while the victory over Express was an illustration of resilience. Hood Kaweesa, largely anonymous under previous coach Sam Timbe appears revitalized too.
In addition to his physical attributes, Kaweesa has added good movement to his game.
Red-hot scoring boots
Saturday’s brace which made him the leading scorer thus far came via an opportunistic strike, tapping in at the far post after URA goalkeeper Nafian Alionzi parried Balinya’s shot into his path.
The second was a dinked finish after a precise through ball from Shakur Makeera. He continued with his scoring run on Tuesday adding a fine header to seal all three points.
His fine form saw him summoned alongside enterprising youngster Albert Mugisa to the Cranes fold for the November World Cup Qualifier away to Congo Brazzaville this month.
Despite the wonderful start, Mubiru has so far steered away from all talk of a title charge.
“Our aim is to be competitive throughout the season and see how we much against the bigger teams,” the former Vipers, KCCA and Proline coach stresses.
Off the pitch, Mubiru has also ensured the players spend the day at the club offices located at Kibuli Police Training School where they are also taken through theory sessions.
The club now also employs a team of statisticians the compile information about every player on match days. There has also been an improvement in players’ welfare with bonuses awarded particularly for away wins that has added to the motivation.
The club is also seeking to interest the vast numbers of the Police force as evidenced by the police brass band appearances in recent games. “They are not on top by mistake,” opined KCCA coach Mike Mutebi before the two teams played last week.
The statement was vindicated as the champions struggled to break down the Cops who dominated possession for long periods before an Allan Kateregga moment of magic in added time ensured KCCA won 2-0.
In fact Police could even point to a knock suffered by winger Yasin Mugume as a turning point as the winger had the KCCA backline on the back foot before suffering a knock.
While matching the class of 2005 that won the league and subsequently the Cecafa Club Championship might be difficult it is unlikely that Police will again be mentioned in the relegation topic this season.
POLICE - CLUB PROFILE
Nickname: The Cops
Ground: Mandela National Stadium, Namboole
Home Colours: Navy Blue
Away Colours: White
Third Colour: Red
Chairman: AIGP Asan Kasingye
Coach: Abdallah Mubiru
Captain: Martin Mpuuga
Honours: One League Title (2005),
Cecafa Kagame Cup winners (2006)