Kampala- East to West, Central to West Nile local football is breathing as the 2017/18 Azam Uganda Premier League (AUPL) gets underway across six stadiums on Tuesday.
From TV money and other sponsorships brought in by clubs, to sharp blazers during new player unveilings, to pre-match press conferences, there is definitely something positive happening.
KCCA welcome Maroons
Whether that will be transformed to the field of play cannot get a clear answer now, but we shall definitely start seeing to that later this afternoon when KCCA open their title defence against newly-promoted Maroons at the Star Times Stadium, Lugogo.
Addressing the media ahead of the potential three-peat season, KCCA manager Mike Mutebi was confident they would retain the title but warned that four others could also win it. “Naming the four is your part,” said Mutebi when asked who the biggest threat to KCCA’s title defence could be.
The four would ideally be 16-time record champions SC Villa, two-time winners Vipers; four-time kings URA, perhaps Express if they get their act together. “All I know is that four other clubs will compete with us for the title. They have prepared well and also have good squads,” insisted Mutebi.
“But I have confidence in the squad at our disposal to retain the title. We have brought in at least 10 youngsters to push the existing players. We want to score goals and we have brought in the players for that.”
One of those players brought in to fill the void left by Geoffrey Sserunkuma is Patrick Kaddu, who turns his guns on former employers, Maroons, today.
Kaddu scored 16 goals for the Prisons side to attract the attention of KCCA. Derrick Nsibambi, however, remains the club’s lead striker.
Vipers start away
Across in Mwererwe – Matugga, Vipers coach Jorge da Costa Miguel will be desperate to get the campaign in high gear.
“We have a solid team that we believe will favourably compete for honours this season,” said the Portuguese.
Vipers, who have added the midfield duo of Tom Masiko and Taddeo Lwanga from KCCA and Villa respectively, arrive knowing they have a cog to deal with in Bright Stars and coach Fred Kajoba.
Vipers’ last visit here was a 1-1 affair. Yet they have more to deal with in Bright Stars coach Fred Kajoba. “Personally, I have not lost to Vipers and Lawrence Mulindwa (club patron). Nicholas Wadada (club captain) and Ismail Watenga (goalkeeper) know that,” revved up Kajoba.
Kajoba has been away with Cranes for most of preseason. “I trust in the new team assembled by my deputy Paul Kiwanuka,” he said.
Experienced goalkeeper Hamza Muwonge, Farouk Kawooya, Yusuf Bogoth and young striker Nelson Ssenkatuka, who Vipers must particularly monitor, are some of the new faces at Bright Stars.
SC Villa desperate
In Masaka, SC Villa start their 14th successive attempt at reclaiming the title they last won in 2004.
Micho Sredojevic, the man who last won it for them, has since lifted league titles with Ethiopia’s St George, led Al-Hilal to Caf Champions League semifinals, qualified Uganda to the 2017 Nations Cup and managed Orlando Pirates twice while Villa still wait for a league gong. As they open against Soana, coach Wasswa Bbosa and his new assistant Paul Mukatabala will hope to end that run.
Simon Sserunkuma, Allan Kyambadde, Musa Mukasa and Mahad Kakooza - all from Express – are some of the new faces to champion the cause.
“I was involved in the recruitment of these players and am comfortable with the squad I have to challenge for the title,” Bbosa told this newspaper.
Today at 4:30pm
Bright Stars vs. Vipers
Bul vs. Mbarara City
KCCA vs. Maroons
Masavu vs. Police
Onduparaka vs. Proline
TV Game kicks off at 4:00pm
SC Villa vs Soana
URA vs. UPDF
Express vs. Kirinya -Jinja