Fufa can use its Top 8 tournament to eliminate dead rubber matches


What you need to know:

A trio apiece of upstarts (Kitara FC, Bul FC, and Nec FC) on the one hand and seasoned contenders (Vipers SC, SC Villa, and KCCA FC) on the other are all in with a shout. Well, sort of.

If some observers are to be believed, this is supposed to be one of the most fascinating title run-ins Uganda's top flight football league has witnessed.

A trio apiece of upstarts (Kitara FC, Bul FC, and Nec FC) on the one hand and seasoned contenders (Vipers SC, SC Villa, and KCCA FC) on the other are all in with a shout. Well, sort of.

On the surface, a strong argument can be made for drumming up the 2023/2024 title race.

On the flip side, it can be argued for with modest success; not least because it is very much at odds with the prevailing mood.

How else would you explain the fact that even local club football fans describe the title run-in with an absence of emotion!

There can only be one explanation—a title run-in is only as good as the regenerative capacity of the league's mid-table teams.

The aforesaid regenerative capacity can only be underestimated at one's peril as Liverpool FC recently learnt in England's top tier.

In fact, today, Arsenal will proceed with caution and scepticism when it plays away to Wolves. A potential banana skin beckons.

It is easy to see why England's mid-table teams are not blinded by a mixture of admiration and intimidation when they come up against the big boys at the home straight.

The league is structured in such a way that teams will not at any point struggle to assert themselves in meaningful ways.

Such is the scale of what is at stake that you will not—at any point in time—find a team unimaginative and lacking in fresh ideas. 

Financially speaking, the difference between an eighth place finish and a ninth placement is telling.

At least if you are a Bournemouth. So teams will, regardless of the time of the season, do their job and by all accounts do it well. If they fail, it will not be for the lack of trying.

The same cannot, however, be said of club's in Uganda's top flight football league. The backend of the season is traditionally the time when clubs that have “nothing to play for” (i.e. those that neither have the chance of winning the league title nor are at risk of facing the drop) switch off.

This has made such mid-table teams the victim of others' unseemly desires and fascinations.

Match-fixing has always figured highly in what the rumour mill has coughed up.

Sadly, this is always augmented by the alarming performance of referees. The appearance and style of this complexity is less impressive than it is foolhardy.

It should therefore invite a consequential question around how responsible authorities can create a framework that encourages teams to continue pushing the envelope regardless of their fate.

One of the vehicles that Fufa, the local football governing body, can use is its Super 8 tournament.

The tournament should not just be framed and positioned as a precursor of a new club football season as Fufa officials said last year when it returned after a four-year hiatus.

While the hiatus was enforced by the pandemic, it is perplexing why the tournament appears doomed to the terrible fate of inheriting a bad hand.

Rather than only make a perfunctory or symbolic effort to keep the tournament on its calendar, Fufa should endeavour to be enormously supportive of it. This should be by way of making it lucrative for clubs to finish in the Top 8. Can it, for one, be made to mirror the Top 4 in England? 

If this does manage to see the light of day, Ugandan football officials will—at great lengths—succeed in eliminating “dead rubber matches” that dominate the bill at the backend of each season.