Villa should build on this regardless of how it ends
What you need to know:
From battling relegation in their recent campaigns to ending the said seasons in minus-goal differences, the Jogoos have been to hell and back. But on Saturday, they step onto the Wankulukuku turf knowing that victory over URA will hand them their first league title since 2004.
Saturday will be special. Wait! Saturday could be special. Saturday could be the day that SC Villa’s famous cock finally crows.
And not just your usual crow, but one that delivers the most beautiful news in nearly two decades at SC Villa.
For that to happen, the Jogoos have just one job. Post a similar result against URA at Wankulukuku on Saturday as they did in their last two matches away to UPDF and at home to Blacks Power!
Tough final day
It is not as simple as it looks, though; especially when you consider that Villa have not beaten URA in their last seven league meetings dating back to 2019.
URA have won three of those, but haven’t won at Villa along the way.
A Villa victory today would move coach Jackson Magera’s side to 55 points, and they wouldn’t have to care what happened in matches involving Vipers against Busoga and KCCA at home to Soltilo Bright Stars.
Just that one victory over URA and the storm is over. “I can't imagine Villa is this close to winning the league title,” said Villa marksman Charles Bbaale, who has scored 12 of the Jogoos’ 27 goals.
“I will be more delighted to be the top scorer and the league winner,” Bbaale is currently level on 12 goals with Allan Kayiwa of Express. “The team is ready to beat URA and make history.”
Bbaale is all of us. Well, most of us. Going by the seasons preceding the current one, not a genuine single soul, truly believed Villa would jump straight from relegation fights to title contenders.
Relegation to title contenders
If you take away the 2019/20 season, which ended five games short due to Covid, Villa have been fully relegation candidates.
In the above campaign, the Jogoos did well to end third on 46 points behind KCCA and eventual champions Vipers.
On top of winning 13 matches and losing only five, they finished with a decent goal difference of 12.
Apart from the above in the last four seasons, it was painstaking being a Villa fan. In the 2018/19 season, for example; the Jogoos finished 12th on 34 points from 30 games.
They won just seven games and lost 10, finishing with a goal difference of two.
Then after a good improvement in the following season, where they finished third, they reverted to default settings, finishing 1oth and 12th in 2020/21 and 2021/22, the last also ending in a -5 goal difference.
Improved welfare, management
Add the managerial chaos that saw Greek Petros Koukouras unceremoniously kicked out in yet another relegation survival season and you honestly had no basis to back Villa for anything close to a title challenge.
But credit to Villa president Hajji Omar Mandela and his team, they elevated Magera, who was assistant to the Greek, and deputised him with Ibrahim Kirya and the pair have managed to supplement each other up until this point.
They have turned a collection of inexperience and Masaza Cup graduates into title contenders, with top scorer of the aforementioned tournament in 2020/2021, Bbaale, again headed for the boot in the league this season.
Player welfare has greatly improved at the club, with no noise of Jogoos going months without pay.
When they have lacked in attack, they have been solid at the back, registering a catalogue of 1-0 wins to bring them into the final day needing just another such victory to be crowned champions.
Cost of hooliganism
And to think that Villa would actually be champions with a game to spare had a section of their fans not engaged in hooliganism in the defeat to Wakiso Giants late last year, which led the club to being deducted two points and as many goals!
Without the above calamity, Villa would now be on 54 points and a record extending 17-time champions with a game to spare.
This is a lesson that hooliganism has no place in the game, and that should it be carried out, there is a price to pay.
By now, even the guilty Villa fans, themselves, know that their acts were expensive for the club.
And even if the Jogoos were to go on and win to go, they will know that it was a close shave.
But whatever happens at Wankulukuku, Villa management, technical team, fans and neutrals will look back and exclaim: ‘What a season!’
Yes, coming this close and not winning it would hurt, but it will not undo what has been achieved this season.
What the club has to do is not drop the ball, whatever the outcome from Saturday.
If they clinch it, wow! What a way! Title sealed, back in the Caf Champions League, and back as the real big boys.
Whichever way it ends, Villa have to build on this. From strengthening the playing staff, aligning management and sensitising fans about living in civility, they just have to capitalise on this.
Villa with one match to go
Top of 15-team table on 52 points after 27 matches
Lead Vipers and KCCA by two points
Need to just beat URA and they are champions
A Villa draw and Vipers win, the latter retain the title on goal difference
Villa’s current goal difference is 8, Vipers 22 and KCCA 16
Have won 17 matches, three more than Vipers and KCCA
Won their last two games coming into the final match against URA today
Villa in the last four seasons
Vipers SC were champions with 74 points
Villa finished 12th out of 16 on 33 points from 30 matches
Won 8 games and lost 12
Finished with -5 goal difference
Lost final match of the season 1-0 away to Bul
2020/21 (ended prematurely because of Covid)
Express were champions on 58 points from 26 matches
Villa finished 10th on 36 points after 27 matches
Won nine games and lost as many
Finished with -1 goal difference
Lost their abrupt last match 2-1 away to UPDF
2019/20 (all clubs finished at 25 matches because of Covid)
Vipers were champions with 54 points after 25 matches
Villa finished third on 46 points
Won 13 matches and lost five
Finished with a goal difference of 12
Won their abrupt last match 1-0 away to Tooro
KCCA were champions with 66 points from 30 matches
Villa finished 12th on 34 points from 30 games
Won seven and lost 10 games
Finished with a goal difference of 2
Thrashed relegated Nyamityobora 6-0 on the final game of the season