The 2021/22 StarTimes Uganda Premier League kicks off tomorrow with three matches. Champions Express start with a home tie against newly-promoted Arua Hill at Wankulukukuku. All games kick-off at 3pm with limited fans due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
However, the biggest storyline is that record league winners SC Villa are not part of the fixtures having failed to meet minimum licensing standards.
Without them, we chose our champions and also highlighted what you should have out for. Read on.
ISMAIL DHAKABA KIGONGO, HEAD OF SPORTS
I pick Vipers slightly ahead of Express because of the ability to score more than the rest
The league starting without SC Villa is a scandal. On the positive side, look out for what Arua Hill and Gadaffi will do this season.
They have the mettle and sheer will to do it on the bounce. The backroom staff is buoyed and players are assured of financial stability.
The build up to this season has been anything but fancy. Total shambles with the storylines emanating from Busoga United, SC Villa and power struggles all-over the park nothing to write home about. But watch out for Vipers, a truly championship side built on professional ethos, albeit lately!
JACOBS SEAMAN ODONGO,
Second: Police. Third: URA. Fourth: Express
Police results. They will come through in shocks and balances as the Cops keep pace with top four to the end.
I think they are a much solid team now, gelling youth and experience. They have maintained almost their entire team with Yunus Sentamu starting the new season at his best settled he has ever been in recent years. Add Bobosi Byaruhanga, who has been presented the stage to fully run the show and Vipers will be defending champions Express’ biggest challengers. Brazilian coach Robertinho Oliveira – for as long he is not overly interfered with by management – is primed to win it at his first time of asking.
More goals and competitiveness. I think we are going to see a continued increase in goal scoring across the league, plus more competition as the latest Cranes set-up has showed that everyone can have a shot. The benefits of making it to the national team cannot be emphasized enough.
ELVIS SENONO, REPORTER
There has been relative calm at Vipers considering the squad overhauls usually associated with the club every off season. New Brazilian coach Robertinho already appears to have given them new identity as seen in the Uganda Cup.
Express have also maintained the same squad but are overly reliant on Eric Kambale for goals.
Bright Stars will push the more established sides. They finished fifth last season.
I also expect the promoted sides to be more competitive. Arua Hill, Gaddafi, Tooro United. Last season only one survived, UPDF.
DENIS BBOSA, REPORTER
They have not been active in the transfer market implying they just need to polish the avalanche of talented players they have. With an enviable squad depth and about eight national team stars, Vipers are good to go. Add that to the experience of their Brazilian coach Robertinho, and you have a hungry and well fed Venom-ous side ready to pounce and sting.
Express, URA and KCCA should give Vipers a run for their money. New entrants Gaddafi and Arua Hill will shock a few big wigs as they fight to stay afloat, Villa off-the- field troubles might distract their youthful team from growing to desired levels and the level of competition amongst the players will rise since they are all jostling for the now wide open opportunity to play for the national team.
What else? Fans should look out for beautiful football from Vipers. Their new style is likely to get the best out of them. I think they are a joy to watch. But the summit of shame would be to have the league without SC Villa simpy because of someone’s ego that is bigger than the Rwenzori!
FRED MWAMBU, REPORTER
The Venoms didn’t venture much into the transfer market for serious buys but the depth in their squad is astonishing by Ugandan standards! The Brazilian looks like he is already striking the right chords; the team is passing with flare and pouncing on attack.
Everyone’s other eye should be kept on the newbies Arua Hill – there’s something brewing in that Kongolo den. From coach Livingston Mbabazi’s capture to the signings, teams should go to Arua with some caution. I see an unbeaten home run for the whole season.
Vipers have a good squad and with the Brazilian coach they will be unstoppable.
Villa will surprise some teams because they have a team balanced with young and experienced players.
FELIX MANYINDO, REPORTER (NTV)
Despite the league having well financed sides such as KCCA and Vipers, it’s not impossible to call.
Like Express showed just ended season, the trophy always goes to whoever is most organised.
I’ll go for Vipers right now. They seem to be well prepared for the season. Though I expect Express to put up a serious fight to retain their title.
One of the most interesting things to look out for will be the two derbies in Arua with Onduparaka having to deal with another bull in the kraal Arua Hill.
REGINA NALUJJA, REPORTER
The defending champions will retain the title since their players have been active playing in the Caf Champions League. Unlike other league clubs, they have not changed coaches hence they will maintain the same old style and techniques that helped them win last season. However Vipers and KCCA should not be underestimated as they have shown dominancy in the previous seasons.
I would want to see if foreign coaches; Viper’s Roberto Oliveira and Villa’s Petros Koukouras will make a difference for these clubs.
DARREN ALLAN KYEYUNE,
The league champion will most likely be decided by the first round performance because the fixture list is going to be congested.
Therefore, Vipers are at an advantage as they relatively have better depth in quality and were definitely hurt but missing out last season.
They still have a very strong squad with goals in it. Yunus Ssentamu and Ceaser Manzoki deal in goals and showed that last season. I expect them to score even more this campaign.
The growth of Bobosi Byaruhanga, addition of Bright Anukani give Vipers the creative personnel in midfield to create goals.
Also, let’s not forget Vipers were still very much in the race before the league was stopped last season.
I expect to see a KCCA side grinding out results and not necessarily about the flair that fans have come to get used to in the past. The signings made point to a more result oriented side and not one to dwell on ‘our way’.
It is a big season for Morley Byekwaso but the signings brought in might take some time to click and challenge for the title.
This is threatening to look like one way traffic for Vipers owing to their squad depth, quality and the organization so far displayed by their new coach Robertinho Oliveira.
Same old UPL; late start made worse by the Villa and Busoga United licensing fiascos. So expect fixture congestion, unnecessary breaks and a late end.
Also Police, URA, Bright Stars will convince here and there before they ‘stealthily’ fade away like they have done in the past.
But at least the people of Arua will enjoy a proper derby that is about fans and football thanks to Onduparaka and Arua Hill.
Compiled by Makhtum Muziransa
Source link : https://allafrica.com/stories/202110140184.html
Author : Monitor
Publish date : 2021-10-14 08:16:52