StarTimes UPL: Five Things To Look Out For in the Second Round

The Second Round of the StarTimes Uganda Premier League gets underway on Saturday, February 5.

Many interesting matches to look out for and it promises to get better with fans given all the green light to return to the stadiums.

More games will be in TV as UPL introduced early kickoffs.

Here, we look at the top five things to look out for in what promises to be an intense second round.

More Bans and Poor Officiating?

If you are a Uganda football stakeholder and you were not banned or fined in the first round, consider yourself lucky. But wait to celebrate, second round may not spare you. Many were banned and fined – From Referees, Fans, Club officials and Players.

The Federation has been at the recieving end of critics who claim that they are a money making machine as more fines and fines were issued out on almost each match-day.

Most fines and bans rotated around what the detractors called ‘poor officiating’ and whether the vice continues, remains to be seen.

John Kalibbala, Ronald Madanda, Jane Mutonyi, Lucky Kasalirwe, Ronald Kirangwa, Ali Kaddu and Rajab Bakasambe have all been banned in the first round.

Asadu Ssemere, William Oloya, Shamirah Nabadda, Ali Sabira and George Nkurunziza are some of the few referees with a clean slate so far.

Much as FUFA has done a commendable job in fighting indiscipline and improve the officiating generally, many believe that some cases have gone unpunished and some also claim that some rulings have been lacking and biased – the pinnacle of all coming in form of a decision to replay the Onduparaka-KCCA match.

And with more games now on TV in the second round, more punishments, bans and fines look inevitable.

Tooro United and Who?

It’s more cold down there for Tooro United. The side sit rock bottom with just four points and you will be hard pressed to find any team that survived the drop with such a tally at this stage.

They have lost many players in the January window and their additions leave a lot to be desired.

Club owner, at least as we know, Madam Alice Namatovu has reportedly accused players of match-fixing everytime they ask for salaries and this has left them demotivated.

With Tooro United’s place in Big League next season almost confirmed, the big question remains – Which other two teams will join them down.

Per the first round, Busoga United and Bright Stars are strong contenders, while Onduparaka and Mbarara City are neither safe.

It may look harsh to add SC Villa in the fray while Police looked to have turned things around after a poor start that saw them lose their six opening games and even reach match-day 10 without a single win.

Who Takes The Boot?

Steven Desse Mukwala starts the second round on top of the leaderboard thanks to his two braces in the two rescheduled games against Bright Stars and Busoga United.

He now sits atop with 11 goals, just three below his tally in 2019 when he won the boot at Maroons FC.

His main challengers are at Kitende – the dynamic duo of Cesar Manzoki and last year’s top scorer Yunus Sentamu who have 10 and 8 respectively.

Musa Esenu of BUL (8 goals) left the league to join Rwanda.

But Mukwala’s teammate at URA FC Cromwell Rwothomio, Ibrahim Nsimbe (BUL) and Alfred Leku (Arua Hill) who have 7, will have a big say in this race at one stage as well.

It will be foolhardy for anyone to rule out Eric Kambale, in case the forward remain at Express for the second round. He has not had a good outing so far but his six goals speaks volumes. What happens if he gets his scoring boots?

The 2018/19 top scorer Juma Balinya (Police), Davis Kasirye (KCCA), Ivan Ahimbisibwe (UPDF), Shaban Muhammad (Onduparaka) and Anwar Ntege (Busoga United) are also on six.

Four-Horse Race?

URA FC winning their two rescheduled games provided the latest twist and set the platform for what promises to be an interesting title race for Ugandan football in recent times.

The two wins sent URA FC in third, and with their fire power, you cannot rule them out despite a shaky start that saw them play catch up in the first round.

Shafic Kagimu and Saidi Kyeyune have not yet hit the ground but the fact that this team has only lost once, 3-2 against Arua Hill in a game they even led 2-0, shows how interesting this may turn out.

Vipers moved top after their deserved win against SC Villa and it will take KCCA FC a lot of courage to topple them. KCCA FC were run away leaders at one stage in the season and with some key additions like Patrick Kaddu, the Morley Byekwaso’s side remain many people’s favourites to win their 14th title this season.

Express still have belief that they can defend their title but sit six points below leaders Vipers. The Red Eagles were hard done by initial rows between Coach Wasswa Bbosa and CEO Isaac Mwesigwa that saw the side start the season on a low note. They have the best defence in the league, having conceded only eight in 15 games and if they can improve at the end of the pitch, this will go to the wire.

Next Coach To Be Sacked?

Five of the 16 clubs parted ways with their coaches during the first round of the season, and it will be interesting to see who will be sacked in the second round.

Wakiso Giants’ Douglas Bamweyana left after two games and the club appointed Alex Gitta in an interim role.

Mubarak Wamboya was sacked by Gaddafi FC after six games and he was replaced by Peter Onen.

Baker Mbowa (Bright Stars), Hussein Mbalangu (Mbarara City) and Edward Golola (Tooro United) were also axed before the first round closed.

With pressure games coming up as we approach the business end of the season, more managerial changes are expected.

You will not be a prophet if you say that Ibrahim Kirya will not complete the season at Tooro United because of financial hardships at the club among other challenges.

Petros Koukouras is also on a hot seat at SC Villa while it will not be a surprise if Vipers sack Roberto Oliveira anytime if the title race turns upside down. Lawrence Mulindwa’s track record with coaches speaks for itself.

Other coaches at relegation-threatened clubs like Abbey Bogere Kikomeko (Busoga United), Paul Kiwanuka (Bright Stars), George Lutalo (Onduparaka) and Sadick Ssempigi (Mbarara City) are not safe.

Brian Ssenyondo’s job at UPDF was under scrutiny at some stage while Arua Hill’s Livingston Mbabazi is a known journeyman.

And with coaches like Sam Ssimbwa still without a club, some coaches remain under threat.


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