Federation of Uganda Football Association took a bold decision to end the 2019/20 Uganda Premier League due to the Covid19 pandemic.
The decision, with more than 75% of the load cleared, saw Vipers declared Champions and hence relegating Maroons, Proline and Tooro United to to the Big League.
Many talking points have headlined this season that started with Cephas ‘Tarzan’ Kambugu’s goal giving newcomers Kyetume a shock win against record league winners SC Villa in a floodlights game at Namboole. Enjoy.
Individual Brilliance – Many good performers, especially in the striking department, have lit the 2019/20 season. Fahad Bayo will lay claim as the best signing while Steven Mukwala stands out as the most improved player having claimed the golden boot with 13 goals, just one above Bayo and Ben Ocen. Mbarara City’s Brian Aheebwa, Express FC attacking trio of Dissan Galiwango, Frank Kalanda and Frank Ssenyondo have been outstanding as well. The two youngsters at Kitende Bobosi Byaruhanga and Karim Watambala, Gift Ali (KCCA) and David Bagoole (Busoga) have taken the season by storm.
Improved Clubs – From surviving relegation last season to finishing third, SC Villa’s story has been remarkable and the same can be said of Busoga United who came fourth. In the 2018/19 season, the three newcomers – Ndejje, Nyamityobora and Paidha – were all relegated which has not been the case this time round thanks to Kyetume and Wakiso Giants.
UPL On StarTimes – More games have been broadcast live on Sanyuka TV and there has been a slight improvement in the picture quality. Whether changing the commentary to Luganda and the questions of clubs getting their right share (money), will be a debate for another day. And that takes us to the bad side.
Also Read – FUFA Right To End Season, Experts Say
The Sacking Of Coaches – A total of Eleven coaches have been sacked through the 2019/20 season. Notably, Vipers sacked Edward Golola despite being on top of the table. Wakiso Giants let go of Kefa Kisala and Livingston Mbabazi, while George Ssimwogerere, Eric Ndifuna, Wasswa Bbosa, Brian Ssenyondo, Paul Nkata, George Best Nsimbe and Jackson Mayanja are some of the causalities. KCCA, Villa, URA, Busoga and Police are the five teams that never made a managerial change.
The Case of Stadiums – Most teams played their games away from home as they failed to meet the licensing requirements of their grounds and hence teams lost that sense of belonging. Clubs sought refugee in Bombo while the emergency of an infamous lunchtime kickoff was introduced to cater for the stadium issue. Kyetume was denied a chance of playing in Mukono or Lugazi, Express FC, Mbarara City, URA, Tooro United among other clubs, hosted games at other Venues.
Poor Officiating – On a good note, refereeing has improved to a certain extent but few elements still need to be ironed out. Referee Shamira Nabadda, one of the best in the league, made headlines for a bad reason when he sent off Fahad Bayo against Wakiso for a yellow-offence handball against Wakiso. The decision draw criticism from the public with Vipers official Taddeus Kitandwe getting himself banned for abusing the lady referee. Bright Stars legitimate goal that was never counted against KCCA FC, Viane Ssekajugo’s goal at Kitende that was ruled out for offside, many waived penalty-calls among others called for negative criticism.
Boardroom Decisions – Police FC were the first victims after failing to honour their game against Onduparaka in their league opener but it was Proline’s refusal to play Villa at Lugogo that grabbed most of the headlines, a case that Proline forwarded to CAS. Tooro United failed to raise enough players against Onduparaka, Maroons FC fielded an ineligible goalkeeper against Vipers, teams were fined especially due to fans hooliganism etc, setting a bad image for the league.
Match Fixing Allegations – Onduparaka chairman Benjamin Nyakuni confessed being approached by third parties to give away matches. Tooro United coach Mohammed Kisekka told the press about his players fixing games, former URA FC CEO Ivan Kakembo accused coach Sam Ssimbwa of asking funds for the ‘referee budget’, Kyetume’s 7-2 loss to Onduparaka in Arua and Vipers’ win against Police at Lugogo left unanswered questions to the public as well.
The Unnatural Ending – FUFA’s decision to end the season prematurely is one of the worst climaxes ever, but it’s Covid19 to take the blame. However, some will insist that the decision was rushed, there was still hope. Mathematically, KCCA could still defend their league title while Maroons, Tooro and Proline had a chance to survive the drop. That aside, it would have been a good idea as well if relegation was not effected this season, like it was done elsewhere in some countries.