In the space of 10 months, KCCA have back-slid five years to Mike Mutebi’s first campaign upon return. There are lingering doubts as to whether his then deputy and now predecessor Morley Byekwaso can revive the club’s fortunes all over again.
The general feeling at the MTN Omondi Stadium is that the 13-time Uganda Premier League kings are a broken side that needs to rebuild.
Invading the transfer market to ensnare primarily battle-scarred players was unimaginable during Mutebi’s largely illustrious third spell at Lugogo. Byekwaso’s drastic change in policy from giving the youth a chance to going for the battle hardened ‘warriors’ might worry and unsettle a few KCCA diehards.
Last season’s dismal fourth place finish in the league was the latest instalment in the collapse of the hitherto dominant side that shared the league title with Vipers for close to eight seasons. In 27 league matches last season, they lost seven games, won only 14 and drew six which threw them 10 points adrift of eventual champions Express. With 22 goals, the Kasasiro Boys leaked in the more goals in the top four teams.
Managerial fragilities, injuries and player inconsistencies had a grave toll on the team but the problems run deeper. Byekwaso promised to expound on his transfer trends in a season KCCA believe they must win; hook or crook!
Return of veterans
To hit the ground running, Byekwaso sought out players he has worked with at past clubs. Goalkeeper Benjamin Ochan and attacking midfielder Yassar Mugerwa, who he worked with at the defunct Sports Club Victoria University (SCVU), have joined after running down their professional contracts in Ethiopia and Zambia respectively. “I’m happy to be back. This is the team I grew up supporting, I have won things here and I hope I can win a few more. The fans should expect beautiful football because we want to get back at the top,” Ochan revealed. He is earmarked to replace Charles Lukwago, who has since moved to Ethiopian giants St George. He will be joined by other recruits including Brian Majwega (back at KCCA for the third time), Brian Kayanja, Geoffrey Wasswa, Emmanuel Wasswa, Usama Arafati, Mugerwa, Innocent Wafula, Rogers Mato and Derrick Ochan.
Byekwaso’s sweeping changes at Lugogo had Moses Kalanzi, Keziron Kizito, Filbert Obenchan, Bright Anukani, Joseph Kafumbe, Juma Balinya, Moses Aliro, Samuel, Hassan Musana, Hassan Matovu and Steven Sserwadda bid farewell to the club. There were muted murmurs on the acrimonious exit of youthful players like Kafumbe, Kato, Aliro,Matovu and Obenchan, who had painted a rosy future for the club with huge potential.
Heated battle for slots
Byekwaso remains the best managerial option available, according to the club administrators. The three-year bumper contract he was granted will ultimately allow him experiment whatever he wants with the club - and deliver success.
That said, crafting a reliable striking combo from an avalanche of excess forwards that include Kasirye, Brian Aheebwa, Sam Ssenyonjo, Sadat Anaku, Brian Kayanja, Joseph Bukenya and Charles Lwanga will be pivotal.KCCA will surely want to better last season’s 56-goal yield.
The other contest will be choosing Lukwago’s successor both as first choice custodian then as skipper.Ochan will face tight competition from Derrick Ochan and Ali Mwirusi. Denis Iguma, Poloto and Gift Ali will jostle for the vacant armband.
Last season: 4th
Projected finish: 4th
Brian Kayanja (UPDF ), Davis Kasirye (UPDF), Benjamin Ochan (Leopards), Derrick Ochan (Police), Geofrey Wasswa (SC Villa), Brian Majwega (URA ), Innocent Wafula (Mbarara City), Usama Arafat (Kajjansi United), Yassar Mugerwa (Kenema– Ethiopia), Emmanuel Wasswa (SC Villa), Rogers Mato (Proline)
Charles Lukwago, Moses Kalanzi, Keziron Kizito, Filbert Obenchan, Bright Anukani, Joseph Kafumbe, Juma Balinya, Moses Aliro, Samuel Kato, Hassan Musana, Hassan Matovu and Steven Sserwadda
Juma Ibrahim, Elvis Mwanje