UPDF trades experience guns for baby soldiers

UPDF players do their stretches during a training session recently. PHOTO/COURTESY 

What you need to know:

To back up the team ahead of next season, Ssenyondo hit the market and brought in Ivan Mutumba, Ibrahim Magandazi, Pius Kaggwa, Abas Kyeyune, McDonald Buule, Simon Mukisa, Swalik Bebe Ssegujja, Nathaniel Atamba, Jibril Badru Nsimbe, Farid Rashid and Steven Mpoza.

It was clear that things needed to change at UPDF this season after experiencing an underwhelming 10th place finish last term.

A year and three months into his reign at the army side, coach Brian Ssenyondo has now got the audacity to ask a number of under-performing stars to leave the club.

Known for his perchant to groom kids into recognised stars, Ssenyondo believes the process he started in July last year can now be trusted to yield tangible fruits.

" Our major challenge last season was having relatively a young squad playing in the StarTimes Uganda Premier League for the first time yet they were from lower leagues.

Hopefully they have gained some little experience that we can build on this season," a bold  Ssenyondo told Daily Monitor.

Tried and tested players like Simon Mbaziira, Brian Bwete,Musa Mudde, Denis Ssekitoleko,James Begisa, Bernard Muwanga,Sunday Geoffrey, Salim Huud, Yusuf Wasswa, Shaban Wasswa and Medi Kyeyune have dashed out the exit door at Bombo Barracks.

"I can assure you we will not miss them because  we have the obligation to build new experience," Ssenyondo added.

To back up the team ahead of next season, Ssenyondo hit the market and brought in Ivan Mutumba, Ibrahim Magandazi, Pius Kaggwa, Abas Kyeyune, McDonald Buule, Simon Mukisa, Swalik Bebe Ssegujja, Nathaniel Atamba, Jibril Badru Nsimbe, Farid Rashid and Steven Mpoza.

UPDF fans will take sometime to take in skipper Ssekitoleko's absence in defence a feat they have been used to for the last eight seasons.

Then again, the axing of vastly experienced goalkeepers Bwete and Yusuf Wasswa ushers in a new dawn and open gloves competition in the UPDF goalkeeping realm.


Fifth place target Vs goal scarcity 

" Our main target next season is to finish in the best five positions.We can also give a shot at winning the Uganda Cup but we have budget constraints," he stressed.

That said, UPDF struggled for goals last campaign, netting a paltry 37 in 30 matches, a puzzle Ssenyondo assures he has solved.

Net busters Kaggwa, Nsimbe,Farid Rashid have since arrived to lift the scoring burden off Ivan Ahimbisibwe who netted 10 goals.


More academy graduates 

Ssenyondo made his name at Synergy Academy where he unearthed talented players like Nicholas Kasozi and Solomon Okwalinga among others.

He still lives by his dictum and is set to unleash rookies Buule, Kyeyune,Mukisa,David Kasirye and Sabir Yassin to the football world.

Last season, Ssenyondo revived the career of midfield prodigy Kipper Luwalo and expects him to be amongst the best midfielders in the league this season.

"I expect him like any other team player to have game time to help the team and develop more as a player."


UPDF at a glance


Last season finish: 10th

Projected finish: 8th

Founded: 1968

Coach: Brian Ssenyondo

Nickname; The Lion Army

Achievements: League titles (1971,1978), Uganda Cup (1977,2011), Caf Cup runners up 1978


Players IN: Ivan Mutumba, Ibrahim Magandazi, Pius Kaggwa, Abas Kyeyune, McDonald Buule, Simon Mukisa, Swalik Bebe Ssegujja, Nathaniel Atamba, Jibril Badru Nsimbe, Farid Rashid, Steven Mpoza


Players OUT: Simon Mbaziira, Brian Bwete,Musa Mudde, Denis Ssekitoleko,James Begisa, Bernard Muwanga,Sunday Geoffrey, Salim Huud, Yusuf Wasswa, Shaban Wasswa, Medi Kyeyune

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