Vipers get moving, Kitara party at Villa

Kitara players celebrate with their fans after a 2-1 victory over SC Villa in the league opener played at Wankulukuku. PHOTO/ EDDIE CHICCO

What you need to know:

Two newly promoted sides, Kitara and Nec, picked maximum points on an opening weekend where all six winners were away teams

Vipers SC kicked off their title defence with a 2-1 victory at Gaddafi on a day Maroons laid their own marker by outscoring every team on matchday one of the 2023/24 StarTimes Uganda Premier League.

In what was an interesting opening weekend, all six winners from the seven matches played were away teams.

They include two newly-promoted clubs Kitara and Nec. The others are Maroons, Vipers and Busoga United.

In Jinja, reigning Player of the Year Milton Karisa and new Vipers Mauritanian forward, Mohamed Saleem, scored two first half goals as the Venoms launched their title defence.

Making a return to the Gaddafi Arena, the Solder Boys looked the better side in the opening minutes.

But Vipers absorbed the attacks before launching their own later on that yielded the two goals.

Relieved Neiva 

Karisa opened the scoring in the 27th minute, receiving Yunus Sentamu’s pass and bamboozling Najib Tusaba before coolly beating Dennis Ochieng in Gaddafi's goal.

Salem then opened his league account for his new club three minutes to half time, the Mauritanian scoring from a rebound after goalkeeper Ochieng spilled Bright Anukani's shot for 2-0.

"They pushed us much in the first 15 minutes but we were able to gain control and score the two goals,” said Vipers coach Leo Neiva, who will have been relieved after an early exit from the Caf Confederation Cup.

“But to us,” added the Brazilian coach, “the win was the most important because we needed it that much.”

Benson Muhindo scored the home side’s consolation from the penalty spot on 55 minutes after Rogers Torach was punished for shirt-tagging Amos Kirya.

Maroons parade

At the Kabaka Kyabaggu Stadium, Prisons side, Maroons, literally carried out a procession on Wakiso Giants home turf, thrashing the Purple Sharks 3-0.

Abraham Tusubira was the star of the show, setting up Darius Ojok twice before scoring the third, himself, for Maroons to go top of the table after one match. 

The first goal arrived in the second minute with Ojok side-footing the ball in from Tusubira lay-off.

The two linked up again to greater effect for the second goal on 34 minutes after Tusubiira dragged Paul Willa wide before beating defender Bashir Asiku to cut back for Ojok.

Wakiso went on to waste several goal scoring opportunities and they were duly punished when a searching high ball found Tusubira, who tapped into an empty net after goalkeeper Kenneth Lukuya misjudged his catch.

Amidst the noise, Busoga United also got some rare smiles, Isaac Doka Mweru scoring the goal in the 1-0 win over Arua Hill in Adjumani.

Kitara daze Villa

Earlier on Friday, Kitara stunned SC Villa at Wankulukuku with a 2-1 victory, last season’s Big League top scorer Denis Omedi’s strike and an unfortunate Elvis Ngonwe own goal deciding the well attended game. 

Striker Charles Lwanga, who returned from KCCA, had cancelled out Omedi’s first half goal but one incisive through pass breached Villa, and in an attempt to thwart Kabon Livin, Ngondwe toe-poked the ball into his own net in injury time.

Before the match, which was also attended by former Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic, fans were treated to entertainment from dance hall star Ziza Bafana.

Elsewhere, title hopefuls Bul started on a winning note, beating Soltilo Bright Stars 1-0 away at Kavumba thanks to Lawrence Tezikya’s goal.

In Mbarara, Dhata Joseph Stephen and Nec wrote their own history, the player scoring the club’s first goal, in their first ever top-flight match, for their first ever win in the UPL. They beat fellow promoted side, Mbarara City, 1-0 at Kakyeka Stadium.