Wananchi returned to the where they belong – at the top of the men’s National Hockey League (NHL) after a lacklustre season last year.
The 2018 season has been better with the side, inspired in bits by Collins Batuusa and Derrick Akuwa in the first half of the season then Innocent Mbabali and Emmanuel Baguma in the second, winning 17 of 20 games to grab back the title they lost to rivals Weatherhead in 2017.
The difference between the two sides, in a season that saw games increase from 16 to 20 after a new side Historicals – was formed, is surely the three points Wananchi (54 points) earned by beating Weatherhead (51 points) 3-1 in their first round encounter held on June 23.
The two antagonists shared spoils in their other three league meetings but Wananchi felt they deserved more from the third round encounter held on September 8.
Weatherhead’s Kyamanywa had received two yellow cards in their 2-1 win over KHC Stallions on September 2 making him ineligible for the Wananchi game, according to the UHA league rules on accumulation of cards (Part 2. Article 2). However, he was fielded for parts of the first half prompting Wananchi to file a petition.
The Awards, Honours and Competitions Committee (AHCC) found Weatherhead guilty of flouting the rules in that 1-1 delayed third round draw but no official communication has been filed to the effect.
Effecting the change now is inconsequential and it is hard to imagine the new champions, who have won four of the last five leagues, following up. Even the bottom of the table is settled with Rockets finishing above bottom placed Historicals and second placed Simba – for the first time in four seasons.
A more interested party in these petitions could instead be ladies’ side Kampala Hockey Club (KHC) Swans who can jump from bottom to third place if their successful appeal against Weatherhead can be lettered.
Weatherhead fielded Aminah Jiwu, a player eligible to play for Deliverance Church, in their August 12 1-0 win over Swans.
Speaking Deliverance, they continue to soar.
They have been league runners up for the second successful year behind a formidable Wananchi Ladies with 45 points.
The 18 points between the top two ladies’ sides shows the stark difference between Wananchi and the rest. DCU have the numbers in their squad but need to start thinking they can challenge for honours.
KHC Swans and Weatherhead used to be Wananchi’s main challengers but have regressed because of squad depth issues. They are not introducing any new talents while the older ones are drastically reducing their appearances.
Not that Wananchi do not have their own issues but the technical quality of their squad means the now four-time champions can make up for lack of numbers on any given day.
Another bright prospect is Rhinos, who mustered 14 points this term taking inspirational wins off Weatherhead and Swans plus a great draw with Wananchi.
However, most of their better players like Winnie Atim and Gloria Among are in school and miss better parts of the season.
Men’s Best XI – 3-4-3: Charles Ekapolon (WHD); Collins Batuusa (WNC), Solomon Mutalya (WHD), Brian Okodi (WHD); Tumwesigye Ashiraf (WHD), Timothy Ntumba (WHD), Moses Tushabe (WHD), Emmanuel Baguma (WNC); Thomas Opio (WNC), Derrick Akuwa (WNC), Peter Elolu (WHD)
Women’s Best XI – 3-5-2: Sylvia Giramia (WNC); Winnie Alaro (WNC), Vero Atima (Rhinos), Ruth Ajiko (DCU); Peace Makhoha (WNC), Jackie Namyalo (WHD), Doreen Asiimwe (WNC), Margaret Nassiwa (KHC), Peace Anyango (WNC); Doreen Mbabazi (WNC), Vicky Akech (DCU)