Jury out on Luyinda at improving Wakiso Giants

Wakiso CEO Sula Kamoga unveils Luyinda. PHOTO | JOHN BATANUDDE

What you need to know:

Titus Sematimba got seven with the pair supplemented by arguably the league’s best playmaker last season Ibrahim Kasule. 

Wakiso Giants have defied critics and will start a fourth season in the Startimes Uganda Premier League (SUPL) when they play KCCA in their opening game of the 2022/2023 season. 

The Purple Sharks have been on an upward trajectory since finishing 10th in their debut campaign in the 2019-2020 season. 

A ninth place finish followed in 2020-2021 before rising to seventh last season. 

Yet despite the strides made, the club parted ways with coach Alex Gitta after a run of five straight defeats towards the end of the season. 

The club’s three-year stay in the top division has been characterized by a big turnover of coaches with Kefa Kisala, Livingstone Mbabazi, Douglas Bamweyana and Gitta all having spells in charge the club. 

There have also been interim roles for Deo Sserwadda and Steven Bengo for the Wakiso-based side. 

 John ‘Ayala’ Luyinda who has since replaced Gitta will therefore have his work cut out as the Purple Sharks look to better last season’s performance. 

This is Ayala’s first job as head coach having worked as Abdallah Mubiru’s assistant since 2014. 

During that period he has soaked in spells at KCCA, Vipers and Police. 

He was also in interim charge of the Cops for their last five games as they were relegated to the Big League. 

Club CEO Sula Kamoga remains confident Luyinda can fulfil the task hand. 

“We were impressed with his commitment and vision he has for the club and despite being a young coach, he has garnered enough experience to steer the club to another level in terms of performance,” Kamoga said of Ayala’s appointment. 

At Wakiso, Ayala inherits a decent team that played arguably the best attacking football in the league between November and March last season. 

This was after Gitta moved Moses Aliro further up field with the change resulting into a club best nine league goals. 

Titus Sematimba got seven with the pair supplemented by arguably the league’s best playmaker last season Ibrahim Kasule. 

The diminutive attacker chipped in with eight assists as well as three goals.

More will be asked of captain Hassan Senyonjo who has been pushed to a slightly deeper role in midfield.

It is at the back where bigger problems lie for Ayala. Wakiso Giants conceded 47 goals, the second most in the league and worse than relegated sides Mbarara and Police.

A long-standing injury has forced the club to finally release central defender Hassan Wasswa Dazo having missed a large chunk of last season.

First choice goalkeeper Derrick Emukule is also among the departures alongside defenders Fahad Kawooya and Edward Satulo.

Luyinda will be looking to resurrect the career of playmaker Mikidad Senyonga after it stalled at URA while Bashir Sekagya will also be looking to make an impression as Emukule’s replacement. 

The club also continues to make strides off the pitch and last week announced selling a 20% stake to Wakiso District Local Government. 

That should help ease the financial burden on the club that retains the best field with natural grass in the topflight league. 

Focus however remains on whether Ayala can last the distance.

Departures: Derrick Emukule, Fahad Kawooya, Edward Satulo, Hassan Wasswa Dazo, Pius Kaggwa, Frank Ssenyondo, Amos Muwonge. 

Ins: Bashir Sekagya, Mikdad Ssenyonga, Apollo Kaggogwe (CB) Norman Ojik, Marvin Nyanzi, Pascal Irasa (CB) and Collins Onega (RB), Lincoln Mukisa