The 2021/21 StarTimes Uganda Premier League season is half way and The-SportsNation has teamed up to bring you the best XI of the first round.
The-SportsNation writers Brian Kawalya, Brian Inke, Edwin Waiswa, John Paul Ntege, Isaac Waiswa and Abbey Kitaka have closely followed the season as it unfolded from all corners.
It was not an easy one to select the best XI, and many performers have been left out including Herbert Achai (KCCA), Moses Aliro (Wakiso Giants), George Kasonko (BUL), Titus Ssematimba (Wakiso), Yunus Sentamu (Vipers), Livingston Mulondo (Vipers), Alionzi Nafian (URA), James Begisa (UPDF) etc.
Nonetheless, we have picked up a good team of 11 players that has been assigned to Wakiso Giants coach Alex Gitta.
The selection was based on the player’s performance in the first round of the 2021/22 season, and how that player’s brilliance has helped in lifting his team.
The formation picked is 4-3-3, with KCCA FC’s Ashraf Mugume anchoring the middle. That’s another spoiler alert.
But let’s get this underway, shall we?
GK – Simon Tamale (Bright Stars):
The young goalkeeper has already proved to everyone that he is one of the best in the league with his consistency and outstanding displays. Three penalties in the first round headlines his role at the club in the first round – He saved Richard Wandyaka’s penalty in a goalless draw with BUL, denied Musa Mudde from the spot in a 2-1 loss to UPDF and Ceaser Manzoki in the 1-0 loss to Vipers. Tamale has collected 3 Pilsner Man of the match accolades against BUL FC, Vipers and Express. He played seven matches in the first round and kept 3 cleansheets conceeding 10 goals. Though Bright Stars are in the relegation zone in the 14th place with 11 points, it would have been worse without their number 24. By Brian Inke.
RB: Innocent Wafula (KCCA):
The lanky right wing back has seamlessly fit into Morley Byekwaso’s team and his brilliant performance for the kasasiro boys has earned him a call up to the National team. He perfectly announced his presence in his League debut against Wakiso Giants with a couple of assists in a 3-0 win. Wafula’s brilliant performances with KCCA were awarded with a goal against BUL FC. His pace and game intelligence have been vital in KCCA FC’s performances and his absence in the team has been felt as they struggle to attack from the right wing. He he so far earned 11 appearances from the 14 games played in the first round. By Edwin Waiswa
LB – Eric Senjobe (Police):
Since joinig Police FC in July 2020 from KCCA FC, Senjobe has proved that it was just limited playing time that had halted his abilities on what he can do. The left back has provided balance and is one of the few defenders who are equally good going forward. Despite Police having a poor start, he has not failed to impress with his outstanding performances which saw him winning pilsner man of the match twice coming from both the barren draws of URA and Arua Hill. No wonder he has emerged as a target for Vipers who already have Aziz Kayondo and Dissan Galiwango in that position. By Isaac Wasswa
CB: Issa Lumu
The defender was Express FC’s unsung hero last season as the club ended a long wait for title success. He has picked up where he left off, putting in a decent performance in the heart of Express defence.
The Red Eagles have conceded just eight goals, the lowest tally in the league at the moment. And its Lumu who will take the biggest plaudits for a club that is still contemplating on who should be the first choice goalkeeper while Arthur Kiggundu and Murushid Juuko have not been regular fixtures. He has missed two (Wakiso Giants and Busoga United) games and was the man of the match against Mbarara City. By Brian Kawalya
CB: Hassan Musana
He was one of the new additions for Gaddafi FC as the Soldier Boys prepared for their first season in top flight. Coming with vast experience after his 3-year stay at KCCA, Musana has managed to live as advertised. He has been solid at the back and his exploits have helped Gaddafi challenge for higher places on the table. Above all, with eight goals, the defender is the leading goal scorer for Gaddafi this season. By Abbey Kitaka
CM: Ashraf ‘Fadiga’ Mugume (KCCA)
He has been a pivotal engine on which KCCA FC has operated its playing style, bossing the midfield area with an eye at goal. He has only missed out on just two games from the 14 games played scoring three goals to his name. His work rate has been key in most of the performances at KCCA FC, he drives the team from defence connecting with the attackers through creating goal scoring opportunities. This turns out to be his best performance ever since leaving Police FC. He remains to be one of the most underrated players in the league. By Edwin Wasswa
CM: Mahad Yaya Kakooza
The evergreen midfielder continues to prove that he is a real jewel for the Express team where Eric Kambale has taken most plaudits from the fans and media. His ball-playing abilities and tackling makes him a complete player and has continued to shine in a season where his new partner Nicholas Kasozi has failed to impress so far. Express will need his intelligence and poise in the middle of the pitch in the second round if they are to mount a formidable title challenge. By Brian Kawalya
RW: Milton Karisa (Vipers)
One of the most regular starters in Roberto Oliveira’s team this season. His pace and artistry have engineered Venoms victories this season. He has improved on his deliveries and has made four assists this season so far. His performance has made Vipers the nearest challenger to runaway leaders KCCA FC. His relationship on the pitch with Yunus Sentamu and Caesar Manzoki has turned things around for the Venoms. By John Paul Ntege
FW: Musa Esenu (BUL)
The forward had failed to establish himself as one of the hottest strikers in the league ever since he left KCCA in 2019. He has finally found the missing piece in that puzzle this season, and that’s consistency. Eight goals to his name make him a joint leading goal scorer with Vipers Manzoki. BUL have had good performers this season including the Ibrahim trio of Mugulusi, Kazindula and Nsimbe but you cannot undervalue Esenu’s contribution so far for a side that sit 4th with 26 points, six points adrift of the tally they collected the whole of last season. By Isaac Wasswa
FW: Alfred Leku (Arua Hill)
He has been one of the most on form and firing strikers in the first round and his inclusion in the team of the first round is not a surprise. He has proved to be a headache to most defences in the first half of the season. The former Express and Proline forward scored 7 goals in the first round in 13 matches almost half of the 17 goals the Kongolo netted in the first round. The sharp shooter was named the Pilsner Man of the match three times against his former side Express in a 2-0 victory, in a 2-1 win away to Wakiso Giants and in a 1-0 victory over Busoga United. His form has helped Arua Hill finish the first round 5th on the log with 25 points. By Brian Inke
FW: Ceaser Manzoki Lobi
The Congolese born forward has been in hot form this season, helping the Venoms stay in the title race. Current top scorer after 15 games with 8 goals, without a doubt, Manzoki is one of if not the best forward in the league. He was voted Pilsner Player of the month of December after scoring five goals and three assists in that month. His eye for goal, aerial prowessn work rate and hold up play make him tick all the boxes as a complete striker. Vipers will need him if they are to take this season’s title. By John Paul Ntege
Coach: Alex Gitta (Wakiso Giants)
The tactician joined Wakiso last season as an assistant for Douglas Bamweyana. He did a commendable job to help Bamweyana save his job in a season that was ended prematurely due to Covid19. Come the 2021/22 season, Bamweyana threw in a towel just two games into the season after losses to KCCA and Vipers and the club conceded eight unanswered goals in the process. There seemed no direction, but the club put Gitta in an interim role. They beat Police, in a game Bamweyana missed before the club confirmed his departure, and the club knitted a four-game winning run. He has picked the right players in right positions and all of a sudden there is a breath of fresh air at Kabaka Kyabaggu stadium. Seated 6th with 24 points, the Purple Sharks are set for their best finish since joining top flight if things go as planned. By Abbey Kitaka
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