Mbarara City Football Club President Hon. Mwine Mpaka says that club coach Livingston Mbabazi is ‘reformed’ and focused to take the club forward.
Mbabazi returned at Mbarara City in March and later managed to save a ‘sinking ship’ as the Ankole Lions survived relegation.
The gaffer helped Mbarara win 7 of 13 games, including a four-game winning streak by the time the league was halted.
He collected 14 out of a possible 18 points at Kakyeka in the league!
The club were 12th with 13 points at the time of his appointment from Kyetume. Despite starting with a draw against BUL at Kakyeka, he made amends and the side finished seventh with 38 points.
“First of all, we faced a challenge with our coach Brian Senyondo, he prioritized national team over club because in the first round he was on the touchline just once, I think Lawrence Mulindwa (Vipers) also faced such a challenge, a coach leaving the club for national team,” Mpaka said during an interview with Sanyuka tv’s Sports show hosted by Martin Kaddu.
“Clubs also have objectives. The sponsors and the fans need results yet FUFA keeps on defending those coaches so will you wait to be relegated to sack the coach? That’s impossible. So, we struggled in the beginning because we got challenges with the coaching staff.”
“Secondly, we faced a challenge with our sponsors of not having money during the COVID times. Thirdly, many players left and we started the rebuilding process. The other is the absence of fans in the stadiums.
“Generally, we faced many challenges but I think we shall adapt and rebuild the team with coach Mbabazi and his technical staff.”
Mbabazi was making a return to the club since he left in May 2019.
In between that spell, Mpaka had made futile attempts to lure Mbabazi back at the club. The two had a meeting at Kati Kati but the deal fell through and Mbabazi ended up at Wakiso Giants.
Mbabazi is a Caf B Licensed and Uefa certified coach but his character off the field has been his biggest undoing, turning him into a nomad of sorts.
“I think Mbabazi has reformed now,” Mpaka added.
“I always talk to him but I personally never wanted to bring him back, but we sat down and talked because I have seen what he has done, the fans are convinced as well.
“He now wants to settle and build his career so that he starts winning trophies. We also have confidence in him, he will do want we want.”
Prior to the start of last season, the Ankole Lions lost players like Brian Aheebwa (KCCA) and Ibrahim Orit (Vipers).
A couple of senior players have run out of contract and are expected to leave before kickoff of next season. However, the top boss remain unmoved.
Mpaka explains: “We shall start with 13 players and recruit many new. We have players who are out of contract but their demands were high to renew their contracts.
“First of all, most players these days have agents who give them a lot of advice, promising them new clubs abroad. We had given them 3 years contracts so they expired at the same time.
“We have good players like four of them but the way am seeing things, we might also leave them to go because their demands are high. I am sure we shall replace them with young players.”
“Our salary scale was 38 million every month last season and that’s a lot of money. When renewing a player’s contract let’s say he was getting Sh500,000, with new contract you have to give him like Sh800,000. Most of our players earn between Sh800,000 and sh2m because we have international players.
“Going forward, we shall concentrate on value for money and look for players with a high work rate after consulting with coach Mbabazi. He has some players he suggested and we are in a process of finalizing them.”
On why they don’t prioritize players in Western region, Mpaka who represents the region in Parliament explained: “First of all that mentality cannot work if you want to be competitive or you want trophies, I saw it with English Clubs when English citizens want all teams to have English players.”
“You should look at this as business, yes if you scout good players in Ankole or a Muganda you give them chance because for us we want results not tribes. If you are selecting depending on tribes, it won’t help you win games. We concentrate on talents. Fans want results, and if you lose games with about 50 Ankole players, fans will still attack you.
“But we have players from the west in the team like Siraj Musindo, Bebe Swalik, Gasper Aheebwa, Hillary Mukundane, Huud Salim from Kasese.”
Since time memorial, Mbarara City FC has had plans of having their own home after having clashes with the management of Kakyeka Stadium.
The club is said to have acquired three acres of land to construct a stadium but still looking for development partners.
Midway this season, artistic impressions of the stadium leaked on social media which left many fans excited and anxious.
He said: “We were in talks with a certain sponsor to advance us with funds to construct a stadium, the impression that circulated on social media was their design but for us we are looking at a small stadium just like the one of KCCA with artificial turf.
“Our sponsors got some challenges.
“Kakyeka was owned by the district but it will be handed over to the city – The city looks at it as a revenue source because even if you have a wedding or any other occasion they hire it to you, they dont see it as a stadium for promoting sports that’s the challenge we have.
“At times, they want us to pay Sh2m per match yet we are the ones who maintain it, we pay the security guards so I wonder where the money we pay goes. Our initial plan was to abandon that stadium. We need to get our own stadium, we have the land but we only lack funds to get the artificial turf.
“We as management shall do the needful even if it needs having a fundraising event in Mbarara. We shall put up a stadium in five years.”
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