Most competitive league in years ends in an anti-climax

Saturday December 9 2017

Second and fourth. Weatherhead and KHC Swans

Second and fourth. Weatherhead and KHC Swans players were underwhelming in a ladies’ league season dominated by Wananchi. PHOTO BY EDDIE CHICCO 

By MAKHTUM MUZIRANSA

Today, the curtains will draw on the National Hockey League (NHL), a week after the men’s title was handed to Weatherhead in a boardroom decision last week.
Wananchi defended the ladies’ championship for the second successive time with five games to spare in what was the mother of anti-climaxes.
The league was bound to lose some luster from the time when UHA decided that finishing second position would not earn clubs a slot at the Africa Cup of Club Championships (ACCC) anymore. The slot instead goes to the winner of a playoff match between the best placed teams in the Easter and Independence cups.

Boardroom points
Nevertheless, this has been one of if not the best seasons in terms of competitiveness but talk will be hinged around how the Uganda Hockey Association (UHA) sat on the eve of a men’s game between Kampala Hockey Club (KHC) Stallions and Wananchi to remove both teams from the title race.
KHC, on 31 points before the decision, were docked three points by UHA for fielding Samuel ‘Webo’ Wakhisi, who had played in the Kenyan league, during their 1-0 third round win over Weatherhead.
Weatherhead, on 30 points then five behind Wananchi, gained three more and beat minnows Simba a day later to win the league.
Weatherhead player-coach Vincent Kasasa, is a master at plotting petitions. In May, as a coach of St Mary’s College Kisubi and St. Charles Lwanga – Kasasa, he got Kakungulu Memorial banned from the Uganda Senior Secondary Schools Association (USSSA) Games for using Sharif Kikomagwa and Herman Mukoli in Kabale.
In August at the East Africa Games, Kasasa, however, reneged on his self-confessed ‘love to play by the rules’ to use Kakungulu players like Emmanuel Baguma and Collins Batusa in his St. Charles team that claimed bronze.
But that was not the only decision reached on the night by UHA as ladies’ side Rhinos were also docked three points for fielding under age players; Annet Awat, 14, and Deborah Nakabugo, 13, in their 2-1 win against Weatherhead in August. The UHA meeting dominated by Weatherhead–leaned members did not care to examine if Rhinos’ players had been involved in any other games. The irony is that UHA has put up no grassroots structures for younger players leaving national competitions as the only avenue they can express their talent.
Also the rule on foreign players suspiciously changed from four, allowed on the pitch in the first to third rounds, to only three in an entire match day squad for round four.

Swans, Weatherhead show no fight
Meanwhile, if the ladies’ results and table standings are anything to go by, then we shall have Wananchi dominate the ladies’ league for many more years to come.
KHC Swans and Weatherhead conspired to put up a poor fight. Weatherhead were competitive till Siddy Alum left for Dubai while KHC’s squad is too thin to the extent that they even abandoned their last encounter with Wananchi. The sides should have borrowed a leaf from Wananchi men who remained in the title picture till their final game of the season despite losing Innocent Mbabali and Andrew Lubega to USIU-Kenya and Simba respectively on top of having Derrick Akuwa banned for four months at the start of the season.

NHL FINALE AT LUGOGO
M: Simba vs. KHC Stallions, 12.30pm
W: DCU vs. Rhinos, 2pm
M: Weatherhead vs. Rockets, 3.30pm
W: Wananchi vs. Weatherhead, 5pm

Men’s Best XI: 3:4:3
Goalkeeper: Joseph Ochan
Defenders: Cliff Owino, Alfred Agaba, Emmanuel Wabuyaka
Midfielders: Sam Mwesigwa, Emmanuel Baguma, Timothy Ntumba, Richard Ssemwogerere
Forwards: Peter Elolu, Benjamin Mkapa, Vincent Kasasa

Women’s Best XI: 3:4:3
Goalkeeper: Shakira Nambozze
Defenders: Irene Blick, Ruth Ajiko, Sarah Ngamita
Midfielders: Doreen Asiimwe, Aciro Teddy, Sharon Oroma, Judith Mirembe
Forwards: Doreen Mbabazi, Susan Khainza, Pauline Korukundo

MVPs
M: Emmanuel Baguma
W: Doreen Mbabazi

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