Onen lifts lid on Bul’s surprising UPL start

Saturday October 19 2019

Bul players celebrate their victory over KCCA

Bul players celebrate their victory over KCCA recently. PHOTOs BY JOHN BATANUDDE 


If patience is a virtue, then Bul coach Peter Onen is one of the most enduring men in Ugandan football. The down to earth gaffer is finally living his dream of making a lasting impact on the top flight level - Uganda Premier League, four years since he took on his first senior club assignment.

After roughly eight games, the top of the league table has taken the shape few expected it to with Bul occupying the number one position.

Without doubt, Onen’s side has made an exceptional start to the 2019/20 campaign which has also seen them blow away reigning champions KCCA 3-0 at Njeru Technical Centre – their fortress. They have lost once, drew once and won six times conceding five goals and scoring 12 in the process.

Carry on like that though and they could finish in the top four, although Onen daringly says his intuition informs him they can do a Leicester (English Premier League surprise winners in 2016).
Surpassing set target
“At the start of the season management set the top five finish as the ultimate target, at this rate I believe we can achieve that and more,” Onen told SCORE. He prides in being Bul’s longest serving manager since they joined UPL in 2011 and says knowing the terrain, ‘politics’ and all in the last four years, is one factor he is flourishing.

“Having worked with young players for so long, I have managed to strike a blend of youth and the experience at the club to get the results. At the moment all the players understand my football concept and are result oriented,” revealed the former U-17 coach.

Onen took in his U-17 shocking axing (early this year after leading the team to the maiden Afcon showpiece) with grace and put all his energies on Bul progress – and the rewards are apparent.
He has granted playing time to rookies Eric Kibowa, Charles Ssebutinde, Martin Apire, Thomas Kabale, Simon Oketch and Regan Kalyowa who are backed up with seasoned campaigners to form an unwavering team.


Mukongotya gamble
Bul four-goal hero Robert Mugongotya was on the brink of quitting football after frustrations at URA and Nyamityobora when Onen came calling. Like him, Musa Esenu (two goals), Godfrey Akol, Allan Munaaba, Charles and Denis Akol were looking clubs to reinvent their fading careers and at Bul, they are playing to prove their critics wrong.

“We don’t buy players at Bul because we don’t give out sign-on fee. Ours is like a rehabilitation centre for frustrated and aging players but we are have turned them into competitors,” Onen states with pride.

Muted title talk
“This is not right time to think about winning the trophy because the players will get excited and lose it. Deep inside me, I believe we can do it if we manage the second round in the same manner we have handle the first round. He says management has maintained the Shs200000 fee match winning bonus on top of other motivating offers.

Once bitten twice shy
In the last nine years, administrative wrangles have connived to water down any potential success by Bul but that has reportedly been sorted.
“The Fifa Pro Club agenda course helped us sort out what each individual (CEO, spokesperson, coach, players and chairman) should do and not to interfere in each other’s roles like it was previously,” he added. That environment has allowed Onen co-live and tap from the vast experience of former league winner Frank Anyau – the club affable technical director.

Huge win vs huge loss
If anything, two standout results indicate what Bul stand for this campaign. They were taken to the cleaners by nemesis Busoga United in the 3-0 Jinja derby rout that gave them a rude awakening. Onen says he went back to the drawing board which bred a convincing 3-0 triumph over league favourites and 13-time winners KCCA.

“KCCA were technically better but on the day, we were tactically better. We play a 4-3-3 formation that changes into 4-5-1 when in not in possession and that is doing wonders,” he revealed. Like KCCA and Vipers, Bul have many field captains – Okot, Jimmy Kulaba, Musa Walangalira whereas Jimmy Kulaba remains their overall skipper.

2019 league matches

November, 01 Bul vs Kyetume
November, 05 Onduparaka vs Bul
November, 09 Bul vs Mbarara City
November, 29 Bul vs Bright Stars
14/09/19 Wakiso Giants 0 - 1 Bul
01/10/19 Bul 2 - 0 Maroons
05/10/19 URA 1 - 1 Bul
08/10/19 Bul 3 - 0 KCCA
11/10/19 Tooro United 1 - 2 BUL