The Startimes Uganda Premier League match-day 23 was not exactly billed as the decisive moment that would determine this season’s winner.
Despite that, all three title contenders in leaders URA, reigning champions Vipers and their pursuers Express were still not expected to find their weekend engagements as straight forward.
In the end all three did with URA and Vipers recording identical 3-1 wins over Police and SC Villa, respectively, while Express edged UPDF 1-0.
The results ensured that the top three teams are still separated by two points with six rounds to go.
URA are top with 54 points, Vipers on 53 and Express 52 after 24 games and URA coach Sam Ssimbwa is confident about his team’s chances ahead of the run-in.
“The competition is stiff but we’re up to the task. We’ve made enough preparation and we’re ready for the challenge,” vowed Ssimbwa.
Still reeling from conceding a late goal to Vipers midweek, his URA side this time scored thrice before taking their feet off the gas pedal. Steven Mukwala crashed home a first half volley from a tight angle for his 12th league goal of the season before setting up Joachkiam Ojera for the second goal.
Ashraf Mandela then crossed for Cromwell Rwothomio before substitute Fahad Kizito’s consolation for Police, who dropped to sixth on points after a third loss in four games.
Vipers were equally impressive against SC Villa and also appear ready to match their challenger’s pace. They were dominant with Bobosi Byaruhanga opening the scores with an emphatic finish after a goal mouth scramble on 27 minutes.
Yunus Sentamu then added a second, his 15th of the campaign, with a side foot finish after fine work and cut back from Paul Mucureezi on the right.
The latter then inflicted buried the lifeless Jogoos with curling freekick awarded against defender Gavin Kizito, who was sent off for tripping Ceasar Manzoki who was through on goal.
“We know we are still capable of retaining the title. This was among the tight games we expected but it became easier having scored three goals and we now we turn focus to the Mbarara City game,” Mucureezi said.
At Wankulukuku, Red Eagles coach Wasswa Bbosa is determined as his team keeps pace with the leaders.
Against a UPDF side that missed the services of suspended coach Kefa Kisala, Express played with restraint, certainty and precision on Saturday.
Aware of the 1-0 reverse defeat at Bombo, Express pressed for an early goal that surfaced in the 21st minute when UPDF goalkeeper Yusuf Wasswa brought down forward Godfrey Lwesibawa in the box.
Talisman Eric Kambale stepped up to fire home his 12th goal of the campaign. Bbosa changed into the counter attacking approach, limiting the visitors, under interim coach Saka Mpiima, to only one commendable shot on target from Brian Kayanja.
Man of the match Daniel Shabena exemplified the Red Eagles’ perfect blend of grit and resolve as he commanded the midfield – alongside Mahad Kakooza and Charles Musiige.
“This was a hard fought win against a stubborn UPDF team. I’m happy the boys put in a good shift,” Bbosa said.
Uganda Premier League Match day 24
Myda 3-0 Busoga Utd
Bul 0- 1 Bright Stars
SC Villa 1 -3 Vipers
Wakiso Giants 7-2 Kitara
Express 1 -0 UPDF
URA 3- 1 Police
Mbarara City 2- 1 Onduparaka
KCCA 2-0 Kyetume