Imagine the sheer joy of any coach boosting a midfield quartet of Shafiq Kagimu, Jackson Nunda, Saidi Kyeyune and Brian Nkuubi. Fearsome, adorable and creative.
URA coach Sam Ssimbwa will be hoping that his star-studded assemblage gel fast and live up to the high billing when the season gets underway.
The four-time winners were strategic in the transfer window, with Ssimbwa, a league winner at Express in 2012, going for reinforce in areas that he feels let down his campaign last season.
Arafat Galiwango and Faruku Katongole arrived to boost the defence that conceded 22 goals while Nkuubi and Nunda were priceless acquisitions from fellow contenders Vipers and KCCA.
URA’s main undoing last season was a blunt forward line that heavily relied on midfielders Kagimu and Kyeyune for goals. To double the 29 goals in 25 matches secured last term, Ssimbwa poached Maroons hitman Steven Mukwala, who was the Uganda Premier League top scorer with 13 goals.
He will breathe new life into the trio of Ibrahim Dada, Cromwel Rwothomio and Michael Birungi as the ‘Tax Collectors’ seek their first title since 2011.
Management raises the bar
“Management wasn’t pleased at all with last season’s performance and have set lifting the title as the minimum requirement,” said club communications manager Patrick Ochieng.
Ochieng reveals that management had a strong belief that the Uganda Cup trophy was theirs to lose before the Covid19 pandemic struck.
The side has also carried out wholesome boardroom changes geared to make the club better on and off the pitch. They have brought back former skipper Simeone Masaba to bolster the technical team while retired left-back Allan Munaaba has been tasked to head the sensitive department of finance & administration. Statistician Paul Muwanaka and new CEO Henry Mayeku complete the new-look club administration expect to deliver tangible results after a heavy financial investment.
Ssimbwa’s grip taking shape
Hitherto branded a club-hopper, Ssimbwa seems to have found a safe haven at URA, just like erstwhile colleague Mike Mutebi has done at KCCA. He calls the shots at the club and has even started building for the future. Ssimbwa has promoted youngsters; Alex Akankwasa, Steven Mpoza and John Kokus this season whilst jettisoning out of favour Ronald Odokonyero, Najib Fesali, Steven Munguchi, Anwaru Ntege and Dan Isiagi.
URA FC SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Nafian Alionzi, Hannington Ssebwalunyo, Samuel Mwaka
Defenders: Hudu Mulikyi, Paul Mbowa, Brian Majwega, Benjamin Nyakoojo, Ronald Kigongo, Ashraf Mandela, Alex Akankwasa, Arafat Galiwango, Faruku Katongole
Midfielders: Alou John Kokas, Ivan Ntege, Hassan Kalega, Shafik Kagimu, Mikidadi Ssenyonga, Michael Birungi, Ivan Sserubiri, Moses Sseruyidde, Saidi Kyeyune, Julius Mutyaba, Davis Ssali, Steven Mpoza, Brian Nkuubi, Jackson Nunda
Forwards: Joackiam Ojera, Steven Mukwala, Ibrahim Dada, Cromwel Rwothomio
ABOUT URA FC
Arena/Stadium: Mandela National Stadium
Manager: Sam Ssimbwa
Chairman: Kizza James
League: Four-time winners
Last season: 5th
Captain: Shafiq Kagimu