Express off the mark as Mbalangu's NEC targets Villa scalp

NEC coach Hussein Mbalangu has made a blistering start. PHOTO/EDDIE CHICCO 

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The surprise StarTimes Uganda Premier League leaders NEC have garnered six points after beating Mbarara City (1-0) and whitewashing hapless Busoga United 5-0 at Lugogo.

Expect no mercy when NEC boss Hussein Mbalangu takes on SC Villa, a club he once coached and played for, on Friday at Wankulukuku Stadium.

The surprise StarTimes Uganda Premier League leaders NEC have garnered six points after beating Mbarara City (1-0) and whitewashing hapless Busoga United 5-0 at Lugogo.

Now Mbalangu wants to lay down the marker against Dusan Stojanovic's Jogoos that are yet to rake a win after the loss to Kitara at home and a 1-all draw with Maroons at Luzira that represents only one point.

"Our early preparations and management logistical support has paid off with immediate results. The boys are hungry and will invade Villa at Wankulukuku without any trace of fear," Mbalangu told Daily Monitor.

The tables have since changed hastily in the league that new entrants NEC almost possess a more experienced side than the 16-time league winners.

In fact, it will be thrilling to watch the Villa defence stop NEC forwards Brian Kayanja, Allan Mugalu, Marvin Kavuma and Geoffrey Sserunkuma considering they have so far conceded in every match.

"We know Villa has young players that can hold on the ball but our physical strength and experience give us a better chance to win.

To us this is the best moment to meet Villa because they are still finding their footing under their new coach," Mbalangu added.

SC Villa budding defender Anold Odong came close to agreeing to Mbalangu's statement concerning the gradual rebuilding in the blue corner.

"We showed great character to come back from a goal down and secure a draw (against Maroons last Sunday at Luzira). Of course, we would have liked to win, but I think our effort today was commendable.

“Our goal is to continue improving and working together as a team. We want to climb up the league table and compete at the highest level. Personally, I will keep giving my best on the pitch, whether it’s in defense or contributing in attack when the opportunity arises,” Odong told the club website.

Considering Villa's next league match is against archrivals Vipers at Kitende, Stojanovic's Jogoos need to get back to winning before the alarm bells are sounded.

Same old URA

On paper, Fred Muhumuza's URA were supposed to be firing on all cylinders this campaign after an impressive transfer window.

But, the troubles that have bedevilled the tax collectors since they last hoisted the trophy in 2011 continue to surface.

On Thursday at Kavumba, the four-time league winners took the lead through new signing Ivan Ahimbisibwe on 19 minutes but were pegged by hosts Soltilo Bright Stars in the 77th minute with a Nelson Senkatuuka sublime finish.

In the second half, the visitors squandered many chances and also blamed the soggy pitch after a heavy downpour but it was apparent that Muhumuza still struggles in team selection and misses late Sam Timbe's mature touch.

In Njeru, Allan Kayiwa showed he remains the go-to player at Express getting off the mark in a controlled 2-0 away win over Busoga United at the Fufa Technical Centre.

The club captain who seemed destined for the exit in the close season after top scoring in the league with 13 goals again provided the biggest spark for James Odoch’s charges.

Kayiwa converted a 15th minute penalty after Isaac Wagoina was fouled in the box and looked the most lively player for the Red Eagles.

The result moves Express to seventh place with four points from two games while it was a second consecutive defeat for Busoga who sit eighth with three points.

They struck the bar twice in the first half through a Jeremy Matata freekick and an Emmanuel Ajo header but are largely ineffective in front of goal as their return of one goal in three games suggests.