Decisive Corporate deliver Holy Grail

Champions. She Corporate redefined the phrase ‘joy unconfined’ after they were crowned Fufa Women Super League champions after playing out a barren stalemate against Kampala Queens to finish with 39 points but edge their rivals on goal-difference. PHOTO /JOHN BATANUDDE
 

She Corporate were ready from the get-go and it showed in the end.
Their preparations for the 2022 season, that they won by a goal after finishing level on 39 points in 18 matches with Kampala Queens (KQ), started immediately after the disappointment in the shortened 2021 league at Fufa Technical Centre, Njeru, where they were eliminated in the group stage.
Shortly after Njeru, their then goalkeeper Vanessa Edith Karungi signed for Danish side Boldklubben af 1893 (B93).
Instead of foreign exchange, club chairman Richard Kawere opted for technical support from the Danish side.

“The tactics and system we have been using this season is exactly how B93 play,” She Corporate coach Hassan Isa shared without divulging details.
But it was clear that his forwards Favour Nambatya, Grace Nassongo and Ronah Regina Nantege freely exchanged roles and positions in matches.
Such was the idea that even when the trio suffered injuries at different points of the season and had to be deputised by any of Susan Atim, Noeline Namiiro and Whisper Alomo, the replacements had to show almost similar dynamism.

Tooling the team
Also Isa’s standout midfielder Phiona Nabbumba had the licence to join attacks, especially from the inside channel between centre backs and the full backs, where she scored decisive goals against She Maroons and Uganda Martyrs High School (UMHS), Lubaga.
More importantly, Isa and his technical team had the right tools in place to improve the players, including Nabbumba who had struggled to convince in Njeru.
Captain Naume Nagadya recovered from a two-year injury to lead the team to glory. Cissy Nantongo is probably the unsung hero of the season but she had to beat inconsistencies of old to even become dependable this season.

Away from the pitch, Kawere and his support team – from chief exectuive Mathias Kakulu to public relations officer Ismail Mivule – had the decisiveness to build the team while their sponsors Uganda Travel Bureau  and Byafayo Talent Management offered the right motivation at the right times including “a dinner to calm the pressure” ahead of the decisive game against Kampala Queens.
Daphine Nyayenga, who only missed two games after coming from UMHS, was a timely replacement for Karungi. She had gained a lot of exposure from her U-17 and U-20 national team duties and from deputizing Daisy Nakaziro while on a brief loan spell at Lady Doves during the Cecafa region Caf Women’s Champions League qualifiers last year.

When Fufa opened the transfer window in March till the end of the season, She Corporate again decisively moved to add budding defender Stella Musibika, from Kawempe, to their ranks at a time when everyone thought their defence was cracking under pressure.
Musibika played three games and Corporate kept clean sheets in all. Her other match against KQ in the just concluded season was Kawempe’s season opening 2-0 win at IUIU (Islamic University in Uganda) Kabojja.
This decisiveness added the trophy winning experience to a club that had lost two topflight league title campaigns at the end of the 2015 and 2016 seasons and the 2018 Fufa Women Cup.

KQ goals came late
Champions She Corporate, who qualified to the Caf Women’s Champions League qualifiers in Arusha, Tanzania, on dates that are yet to be decided,  leave the near-misses tag to KQ, who have also lost in the 2018 and 2019 playoffs.
KQ made the headline transfers by adding coach Hamza Lutalo as well as goalkeeper Joan Namusisi, midfielder Shamirah Nalugya, wingers Margaret Kunihira and Zainah Nandede to their ranks after they had shined with the U-17 and U-20 national teams.

However, they were slow about the deals that the latter two missed the opener against Kawempe while Namusisi seems to have fallen behind another new signing in Prima Mugidde in the pecking order.
The departure of goal scoring captain Fauzia Najjemba to Kazakhstan also hit hard in the first round. Their main striker Resty Nanziri did not start firing consistently until the second round.

She Corporate should have run away with the league as they led with five points at halfway stage but credit to KQ for winning seven of their nine second round games to catch the champions on points. This should hold them in good stead for next season.
KQ, bankrolled by Fufa president Moses Magogo, also matched or even superseded Corporate for financial motivation. 
One time the Speaker of Parliament Anita Among credited the players with Shs100,000 each for Eid celebrations while Nalugya also denied that the Shs500,000 promised to each of them if they had won the league did not add to the pressure.
“We have been receiving money throughout the season. So that was just extra motivation,” Nalugya said.

Free scoring Martyrs fade
If this season has revealed anything, it is that Uganda players and teams struggle under the weight of pressure.
When everyone expected Lady Doves to come out firing for a title defence, they crumbled even though their coaches Rajab Buyinza and Trevor Kavuma insisted it was down to a rebuilding phase after seven of their players had left for ‘greener pastures’.
When She Corporate was expected to make a meal out of the title race, they dropped nine points in four games then KQ, which was freely finding goals in the second half of the season failed to turn up on ‘judgement’ day.
But before that, UMHS had been there too. They got into the title race on the back of winning three games in hand that had been deferred when some of their players were on national duty.

They have got devastating pace in attack and scored 32 goals, more than any team over 18 games.
The technical abilities of their attackers are something to savour both in open play and dead-ball situations. Catherine Nagadya, Elizabeth Nakigozi and Anitah Namata can score from almost anywhere in the attacking third while Latifah Nakasi and Shamusa Najjuma showed they could improve any attack in the league.

Perhaps, only Hasifah Nassuna from UCU Lady Cardinals betters the Martyrs forwards for technical ability. 
Unfortunately for Nassuna, UCU was more of a one-woman army that required her to be both creator and net-burster in chief. She was joint top scorer with Lady Doves’ Fazila Ikwaput on 15 goals but did not have the right partnership to bring out her creative juices
As for UMHS, when everyone, including their troubled coach Rogers Nkugwa – who left with three games to play – started putting them in the title conversation after that early April win over UCU, they dropped four quick points at home to KQ and in Kawempe.

That is contrary to Olila High School, whose coach Saddam Pande declared from the onset that his side were rebuilding for the future and were only working to stay in the top flight. 
Olila finished fifth level on 22 points with Kawempe, who were forced into a rebuild when they thought they were ready to reclaim a topflight title.
But the real problem to address is that UMHS conceded 21 goals. That is nine more than champions She Corporate and one more than the relegated bottom side She Maroons.
UMHS were never comfortable with youngster Sharon Kaidu in goal that they replaced her with Nakaziro as soon as Fufa endorsed her protracted transfer from Lady Doves deep into the second half of the season.

Kawempe pay for exodus
Lady Doves lost seven of the players they won the title with in Njeru. Kawempe lost fewer in Juliet Nalukenge, who moved to Cyprus, Nalugya and Kunihira.
But the player exodus has been recurring season after season since 2016 and it was bound to catch up with them.
When Sandra Nabweteme left in 2016, her goals could easily be replaced by Nassuna. When the latter left with Yudaya Nakayenze and Ruth Aturo, Juliet Nalukenge bagged the goals for the 2017/18 season before that aforementioned trio settled to shift power to UCU. 
Nakayenze left UCU for the US and Lady Doves took over the mantle. Just as Kawempe thought they were rebuilding around Nalukenge and Kunihira to regain supremacy, the two opted to move on and the season unravelled.
Even next season might come too soon for coach Ayub Khalifa’s title thirst.


She Corporate player ratings

Goalkeepers
8. Daphine Nyayenga. 11 clean sheets in 16 games says it all.
4.Gift Nasasira. Didn’t play much but was in goal for the opening 2-0 win over UMHS then returned 12 matches later to get exposed in Corporate’s 5-0 loss to Lady Doves. 
Defenders
6.Stella Musibika. Should be a 8+ but she only came into the club at the end.
7.5Margaret Namirimu. Hardly put a foot wrong all season
6.Swabula Nkomba. Had a good first round then lost her place to Musibika.


6.5Miriam Ibunyu. Had one or two tough games but was mostly steady 
7. Amina Nakato. Her man marking and recovery runs are second to none but can do more going forward
Midfielders
8.Cissy Nantongo. Unsung hero.
Grew into her element game by game. Cushions the defence like no other.

7.5Naume Nagadya. Grew game by game in the first half of the season then maintained a commendable level in the second.
8.5 Phionah Nabbumba. (MVP)
Almost everything tick about She Corporate went through her and she scored many decisive goals.
5.Winnie Nabbalale 5/10
Shared roles with Nantongo before a nasty injury midway the season. Recovered but wasn’t the same
Forwards

8.Favour Nambatya. In terms of individual awards, she is unlucky to play in the same team with Nabbumba and the same league with Ikwaput and Nassuna.
6.5 Grace Nassongo. Diligent on the wings and her first round goals awakened the title dream
6.Ronah Regina Nantege. How did Ayub Khalifa put her on the periphery of the U-20 team? Peerless runner but needs to be goal hungry.

5.5 Susan Atim. Inconsistent but unplayable on her day. Unlucky to suffer an injury at the final bend.
5.Noeline Namiiro & Whisper Alomo.Did well in their cameo roles scoring vital goals. Will need more playing time next season.
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