NEC FC head coach Hussein Mbalangu has expressed readiness to take the newly promoted Uganda Premier League (UPL) side to greater heights.
The Bugolobi-based outfit booked the third of the three available slots to secure top flight football on their first time of asking last season.
Mbalangu was then hired and he started by assembling a new team that he felt would be in position to compete at a higher level than the previous one. According to the coach, the process has been smooth, and the club management has been supportive.
“I find the environment here (NEC) very welcoming. We are working under good conditions, which has enabled us to prepare very well,” Mbalangu told TheSportsNation.
“I very well know that we’re newbies in the UPL, so the first thing we want to do is to stay in the league – to try to be in a good position to see that we avoid relegation.”
“However, we are going to work as hard as we can to see how far we can go. Any team can be crowned Champion, if you win more games and collect more points than the others, you can win the trophy.”
“We want to try to win every game. We can win the league,” Mbalangu stated.
On the new transfers, the coach said, “Each one of the players we have now was purely selected on merit. We have recruited players who are competitive, they have all been playing, and as starters where they have been.
After the friendlies the team has had, according to the coach’s assessment, he is confident that his players are doing better now than previously. He said, “The boys are improving alot, they’re eager to learn, they want to win, and they love the team. If the players love what they’re doing, that will make our job easier.”
NEC start their life in the UPL against fellow newly promoted side Mbarara City this week on Friday, 15, September.
Unlike NEC, the Ankole Lions have ever played in the top division before, but the NEC coach insists that his team is now very ready, just waiting for the games to start.
“The team is complete! We had a few worries where we felt our left hand side of defence was not balancing, but with the acquisition of Rashid Okocha’s experience on the left, I feel the team is now balancing, because we also have Joseph Dhata on the right.
Nine players from NEC’s Big League-winning side will not be part of the team’s UPL journey. The realesed players include Morris Makanga, Julius Walugembe, Julius Magu Kazibwe, Jeans Wokorach, Nixson Oliwa, Moses Okot, Jonah Ssewankambo, Bonny Okoya and Samuel Mwanje.
NEC retained a number of players including their last season’s captain Marvin Kavuma. Meanwhile, Hood Kakooza was recalled back from Onduparaka where he spent six months on loan.
The other players who stayed with the club are Brian Mato, Geoffrey Sserunkuma, Gideon Odongo, Michael Okiria, Shamir Kimwero, Gavin Mubutu, Kizza Ssempijja, Innocent Ramos Asiimwe and Tevin Kevin Kyeyune.
Upto 15 new players have been licensed to play for the team, namely; Ronald Owinyi, John Paul Acire, Kelvin Tah Barni, Juma Ismael, Samson Kirya, Ibrahim Thembo, Enock Ssebagala, Joseph Dhata, Wasswa Kasirye, Rashid Okocha, Sazir Nkonge Junior, Isaac Balyejusa, Allan Mugalu, Brian Kayanja and Ronald Kaye.