If the current Uganda Premier League (UPL) was that gurelling 10,000M race, it would now be at that exciting 5000M mark.
The athletes at this stage are now fully charged up, energized, ready to head for that tactical ‘killer punch’ and powerful finishing kick.
Unlike in the athletic race, each of the 16 clubs in the league has the full audacity to reenergize their respective squads with the January 2017 recruits.
At this stage in the league, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) is the Christmas champion, with 31 points, one ahead of traditional rivals, Sports Club Villa Jogoo.
The race for relegation is far from finish as majority of the Jinja based clubs (apart from Sadolin Paints) are virtually struggling.
Kawowo Sports’ David Isabirye caught at least a game every match day and covered all the 16 clubs in the league.
Here is my best eleven of the first round in the traditional 4-4-2 formation.
Goalkeeper: Isma Watenga (Vipers)
Watenga has the command and easily beats KCCA’s Benjamin Ochan in terms of authority commanded in between the goal posts.
Besides, he is a team leader and ready to die a martyr for the club whose leadership changed towards the last games when Richard Wasswa replaced Abdallah Mubiru on interim basis.
Right Back: Aggrey Kirya (The Saints)
He has the energy to execute his primary role of defending, he attacks without fear and back tracks whenever it necessitates.
For his attacking prowess, the head coach at The Saints Moses Basena often started him at the right flank role.
Still, Kirya had the discipline to sprint back as though he was a full right back. He scored two goals to his name.
Left Back: Joseph Ochaya (KCCA)
For over a year now, Joseph Ochaya has been full of life. No other Ugandan footballer has had such the consistence.
In the opening half of the season, the former Asante Kotoko left back still did not disappoint.
His ability to beat polish the heading aspect of his game has complemented the pin point crosses delivered from all ranges.
No coach wouldn’t love to have a left back as Ochaya on his side, one who buys off special time and calories to score.
Center Half: Rashid ‘Mertasacker’ Toha (Onduparaka)
The Sky scrapper defender nick named after the legendary Germany defender Per Mertasacker has improved a lot for the better since his FUFA Big League days.
Missed some weeks due to his final O-Level studies and examinations, but Toha bounced back strongly.
Scored two goals in the first round against Express away and Jinja Municipal Council.
Center Half: Richard Kasagga Jjuuko (URA)
If Kasagga was a reptile, then, the writing would be clearly well spelt on the wall that he is under-going that critical stage of transformation – remounting.
He has of late rediscovered that he is a huge asset for club and country given his burly structure and game reading instincts.
Kasagga played every match like a cup final as though he was aware that he is being scouted for yet another professional deal to counter his first tenure in Lebanon.
Defensive Shield: Hassan Wasswa Mawanda (Vipers)
Mature, natural team leader and a bully to the opposition. These are key important attributes Wasswa as an individual has grown with at whichever club he has offered his services.
Signed from Iraqi side Al Shorta, Wasswa’s mission at hand was to use the opportunity as a stepping stone to return to the national team.
If there is a match Wasswa has ever played best in the domestic league, then, it has got to be that against KCCA at Nakivubo Stadium.
Immediately, he won again the divided hearts of many including the national team head coach, Milutin Sredejovic who summoned him once again for the Ghana and Congo Brazzaville FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
Right Winger: Living Kabong (Onduparaka)
Contemporary football calls for artists, quick decision makers and extra-ordinarily fast players.
Living Kabong is one such a gifted winger with excellent dribbling abilities, cross execution and a scorer of odd goals.
Attacking midfielder: Muzamiru Mutyaba (KCCA)
Arguably of the most precise and exciting lads local football has to offer.
He has been termed as the next ‘Jackson Mayanja’ in the making by pundits and historicals who watched both players play.
If Mutyaba was a guitarist, one could not get shocked to see him transform his treasured shoe laces into the guitar strings for his creative and mercurial fast think medulla Obulongatta part of the brain.
Slow at movement but extremely quick at decision making, one attribute that has made him the number one play maker in the country at the moment.
Another scorer of odd goals for team KCCA.
Striker: Geofrey Sserunkuma (KCCA)
He is a typical example of ‘Old wine in a new vessel’ tale. Over 30 years now, Sserunkuma remains ageless.
As pure as mined diamond yet to be refined, the former Lweza center forward is sheer class.
Sserunkuma is currently the leading top scorer of the league. He heads and taps home in varying fashions.
He is a typical fox in the box baller whose discipline and commitment has propelled and inspired many of his club-mates.
Striker: Muhammed ‘Deldon Jaggarson’ Shaban (Onduparaka)
The reigning Airtel-FUFA Player of the season is the reason among others why Onduparaka has had a great home run.
Scorer of crucial goals, Shaban is also a team leader for the club he has captained from the FUFA Big league todate.
Left Winger: AbdulMalick Vitalis Tabu
Exciting, orthodox and a bit stubborn, he is AbdulMalick Vitalis Tabu.
He was one of the Sports Club Villa Jogoo new signings of the season from Onduparaka (he had been loaned to fellow West Nile side Paidha Black Angels).
Tabu is that touchline hugging midfielder whose love and ability to get past the next opponent in sight has never been in question and any doubt.
He has often recorded quite a number of assists and scored goals as well (five penalties with one missed).
The goal against Sadolin Paints at Bugembe Stadium where he dribbled past five defenders including the goalkeeper is surely catalogued as one of the contenders of the season.
Missed a few games due to his stubborn character but his discipline has of late improved for the better after head coach Shafiq Bisaso read before him a strict ‘disciplinary bible’ lest he faces the exit door at the club.
Benjamin Ochan (KCCA), Ibrahim Saddam Juma (Express), Ivan Mbowa (Onduparaka), Paddy Muhumuza (Lweza), Norman Ogik (Sadolin Paints), Tadeo Lwanga (SC Villa), Fred Ssegujja (Bright Stars), Gaddafi Gadihno (Onduparaka), Timothy Dennis Awany (KCCA), Paul Mucureezi (KCCA), Halid Lwaliwa (Vipers), Godfrey Lwesibawa (SC Villa)
Head Coach: Shafiq Bisaso (SC Villa Jogoo)
Steered SC Villa Jogoo at the verge of near collapse especially after that time when they fell to Onduparaka in Arua and head coach, Deo Sserwadda was sacked.
First, his bold decision to take upon the responsibility scored him more marks at a time one would think the two twin coaches would follow each other.
His tactical knowledge and ability to read the game given all situations was another bonus.
1st Assistant: Livingstone Mbabazi (Onduparaka)
When he left URA as assistant coach in mysterious circumstances, most people had lost the faith and hope in him.
The former Uganda Cranes international gambled and took the job of Onduaparaka and the results have been self speaking.
2nd Assistant: Mike Mutebi (KCCA)
Preacher of the Dutch football school of thought, Mike Mutebi loves patient play formation.
KCCA is not top of the league by accident but by design and hard work.
Mutebi as the ship captain takes all the due credit and possibly his hardworking backroom staff that hired Morely Byekwaso.