Friday, October 15
*Express 0-2 Arua Hill
*Mbarara City 3-1 Bright Stars
*Onduparaka FC 1-1 UPDF
Express FC started their Uganda Premier League title defence on a sad note after a 2-0 loss to newbies Arua Hill at Betway Muteesa II Stadium in Wankulukuku.
Alfred Leku who scored the goal that saw Express survive relegation in the 2017/18 season, was heavily involved in Arua Hill victory.
He set new signing Robert Eseru to score in the 62nd minute before his hockey pass helped Rashid Kawawa double the advantage.
Leku showed skill to turn Murushid Juuko in and out to find Eseru who beat Issa Lumu before slotting a left foot strike below Joel Mutakubwa to silence the Red Eagles.
Leku later tormented and beat makeshift left back Joseph Akandwanaho with pace, picked Samuel Ssekamatte in the box. The former Bright Stars man set Kawawa who bundled home the second.
Express Rue Missed Chances
After winning their first league title since 2011/12 season, this was not the kind of result the Red Eagles expected to get at the final whistle, especially against a newcomer.
They will however take the bigger blame for missing a couple of chances in a game they looked a better side.
Star player Eric Kambale was an architect once again as he caused Arua Hill all sorts of problems but could not help his side get off the mark.
Martin Kizza was lively on the right flank and could have opened the scores early into the game but sent his freekick over the bar.
The club’s best chance saw Muzamir Mutyaba and Kambale both fail to connect a well weighed delivery from Enock Walusimbi as the ball went begging across the goal mouth.
Coach Wasswa Bbosa was left fuming after referee Lucky Kasalirwe did not award his side a penalty when Kambale was brought down in the box, with the referee just giving a free-kick at the box edge.
Kambale sent the resultant effort into the wall and Express continued to miss a couple including George Ssenkaaba who fired wide from close range.
This is the third straight loss for Express FC in all competitions – They were beaten by Al-Merrikh (Caf Champions League) and BUL FC (Uganda Cup).
The loss, is also the first for Express in the league at Wankulukuku since URA FC beat the Red Eagles 2-1 on February 2 2020 – Then Frank Kalanda’s goal was just a consolation after Mikidad Ssenyonga and Anwar Ntege had put a then Sam Ssimbwa’s side up front.
Arua Hill Sends Early Warning
Which surprise team can break into the top four? Arua Hill has been listed on top of almost everyone’s list.
A good transfer window, a good coach in Livingston Mbabazi and a good front office.
There is a lot to admire about this newly promoted side and they emphasised that they are here to compete with a headline victory.
They looked the second best but were very disciplined without the ball and managed to absorb Express FC pressure especially at the start of the second half.
Richard Matovu managed to tame explosive winger Kizza while former Express player David Ndihabwe provided a strong cover to the wall.
Gaddafi Wahab was the brain in the midfield while Leku and Eseru gave the team a needed apex up front.
Express goalkeeper Joel Mutakubwa was called out on various situations to deny Arua Hill including a save to keep out Eseru effort.
Even when they took a lead through Eseru, they remained positive and got the second later on to kill off the game.
Coach Mbabazi will be happy with the result and performance but he is well aware that this is a marathon.
What Next For Both Sides – Express visit UPDF FC on October 23 at Bombo while Arua Hill MAY face Villa on matchday two before Onduparaka in the West Nile derby.
Express FC XI – Mutakubwa Joel, Walusimbi Enock, Akandanahwo Joseph, Isa Muzeeyi Lumu, Murushid Juuko, Mahad Yaya Kakooza, Nicholas Kasozi,
Mutyaba Muzamir, Senkaaba George, Eric Kenzo Kambale, Martin Kizza
Subs – Otim Dennis, Mubuya Dennis, Byamukama John, Mayanja Ivan, Raymond Walugembe, Sadiq Ssekyembe, Abel Eturude
Arua Hills FC – Anyama Richard, Atendele Geriga, Muhamad Rashid, Magandaazi Ibrahim, Matovu Richard, Faizul Ibrahim, Ndihabwe David, Eseru Robert, Ssaaka Sharif, Wahab Gadafi, Leku Alfred
Subs – Kibowa Erick, Atandu Aggrey, Maduka Innocent, Mugalu Allan, Eyam Ivan, Ssekamatte Samuel, Kawawa Rashid