DAVID ISABIRYE: My UPL best XI of the 2018/19 Season

KCCA players led by captain Timothy Dennis Awanyi lift the 2018/19 UPL trophy (Photo: John Batanudde)

The 2018/19 Uganda Premier League season officially concluded on Saturday, 4th May 2019 with match day 30 games.

Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) Football Club was crowned champions after accumulating 66 points over 30 matches, 7 points better of the 2017/18 champions Vipers.

Sadly; Paidha Black Angels, Nyamityobora and Ndejje University, all the three debutants were relegated to the second tier FUFA Big league.

It was decent season of energetic, dedicated, passionate displays with spirited home and away performances for the 16 clubs played since September 2018 to May 2019.

Here is David Isabirye’s best eleven of the season:

James Alitho (shirt 30) jumps high to tame an aerial ball during the game

James Alitho, Goalkeeper (URA):

At the start of the season, James Alitho made a bold personal decision, not to renew his employment contract at Vipers where he had won the previous league title.

The clean shaven shot stopper yearned for a challenge elsewhere.

He desired for the much craven playing time.

At his new home, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), he sought good refugee.

With Nafien Alionzi, Alitho had a serious competitor and the on-form character would be named in between the goal posts.

Originally, the technical bench led by the legendary former Uganda Cranes player Sam Bamweyana Ssimbwa thought of deploying Alitho as a forward given his versatility.

James Alitho was originally signed to double as a goalkeeper -cum-forward (Photo: John Batanudde)

But, when Alionzi unfortunately got injured, Alitho was recalled to the goal posts.

In his URA debut against Police, he saved a penalty and was outstanding with pin-point saves, just like for the rest of the season.

It has been a joy to watch Alitho perfecting what he does best – thwarting one against one situations, routine aerial ball collections, penalty stops, cross handling and the eye catching lovely drop kicks.

Paul Willa (Police)

Paul Willa reminds me of wine. Young wine is average but the older it gets, the better.

Paul Willa dribbles past URA’s Yeseri Waibi during a recent game at Lugogo. Police lost 2-0 (Photo: John Batanudde)

A young Willa was error prone, indecisive and unromantic, to say the least.

Since his arrival at Police Football Club, Willa’s game has matured.

His energy levels, too, have increased since he graduated from the delicate teen age bracket.

Willa could defend the usually tricky left sided wingers as well as attack in equal measure to offer odd assistance upfront.

Mustapha Kizza (KCCA)

Mustapha Kizza is dubbed the king of assists. Of late, his defensive positioning improved a great deal.

Mustapha Kizza (right) in action for KCCA. His defensive discipline improved a great deal (Photo: John Batanudde)

The cross cutting diagonal balls and the dangerous deliveries were often converted by the forwards as he claimed the most number of assists to his name than any other roving left back in the league.

Kizza has also matured a great deal in decision making than the younger version of yester-seasons.

He thus gets the nod over Isma Kawawulo (Ndejje University), Brian Majwega (Maroons), Derrick Ndahiiro (SC Villa) and Express’ Disana Galiwango who has been often employed as a left attacking winger.

Derrick Ngobi (Bright Stars)

Derrick Ngobi is that mean, orthodox styled but very strong hardworking defender.

Derrick Ngobi, Bright Stars defender (Photo: David Isabirye)

Throughout the season, he remained a diligent party to team Bright Stars in the league.

He forged great partnerships with Farouk Katongole, Innocent Assimwe or sometimes Enock Walusimbi.

Ngobi excelled with the awesome game reading antics,  well timed tackles, calculative clearances and remained as solid in the air during aerial contests.

Livngstone Mulondo, Vipers center back (Photo: Vipers SC Media)

Livingstone Mulondo (Vipers)

On his debut season at Vipers Sports Club, Livingstone Mulondo did not fail to impress.

He was one of the club’s loyal servants throughout the season.

Mulondo remained a neutral factor in the heart of Vipers’ backline before he missed a couple of games because of injury set backs.

He was always available to play with Halid Lwaliwa, Bashir Asiku, Ibrahim ‘Muzeei’ Kiyemba, Geofrey Wasswa and lately Farouk Katongole.

Yunus Sibira

Yunus Sibira (BUL)

Normally, the department where Yunus Sibira is deployed is dubbed as zone for the un-sung heroes – the holding midfield role.

These kind of players often work a lot, covering miles and miles of spaces as they provide the inter-link between defence, midfield and attack.

BUL’s Sibira is one of a kind. He will bust his sweat glands in the name of making a timely interception from the opponent, pass from all ranges and close down the opposition at all times.

Easily picked ahead of other workaholics as Siraje Ssentamu (URA), David Bagoole (Kirinya-Jinja S.S), Abel Eturude (Onduparaka), Mbarara City’s Pistis Barenge and KCCA’s Nicholas Kasozi.

Kasozi was silent in the first half of the season as he struggled for game time since his transfer from Sports Club Villa.

Paul Mucureezi turned around Mbarara City (Photo: David Isabirye)

Paul Mucureezi (Mbarara City)

Paul ‘Mucu’ Mucureezi has been Mbarara City’s treasured jewel. A darling for the teammates and fans alike, Mucureezi’s experience since his glory days at KCCA lifted Mbarara City.

It was easily recognized that there was a big difference for the Mbarara City that struggled against relegation a previous season from the one of this season spur-headed by Mucureezi.

His seven goals inspired the Ankole Lions and lifted them aloft the table standings at some stage last season.

Juma Balinya (Police):

Forwards in football think, feast, breathe and live by goals as their staple fodder.

Juma Balinya wheels away after scoring against SC Villa [Photo: John Batanudde]

Little wonder therefore, that in the contemporary world, strikers are best remembered for shaking the goal nets than any other business.

Police Football Club’s Juma Balinya remounted into a new creature with 19 goals to his name tag in the 2018/19 season.

Like a reptile that skins into a fresh being after every calendar year, Balinya remained the same soul but with a new outer housing as he doubled his work ethic and polished the finishing act into the back of the net with the ease of a free falling object in respect of the gravitational force.

Balinya was all over with simple tap-ins, ordinary follow up rebounds, stunners, headers and set piece explicit finishes into the back of the net.

Goals became his third name tallying singles, braces and hat-tricks to become the golden boot year.

It is by no surprise therefore that at the end of the season, Balinya yearned for more as he targeted to hit the 20 goals yard stick.

Joel Madondo celebrates a goal against SC Villa at Namboole during the night game (Photo: John Batanudde)

Joel Madondo (Kirinya-Jinja S.S):

Joel Madondo was the architect of Kirinya-Jinja S.S’ elevation from the bottom half of the table.

Fast and strong, Madondo scored most of the Kirinya-Jinja S.S’ goals and finished the club’s top scorer with 13 goals.

Nelson Senkatuka reacts to collect the ball from the net after scoring the 5th goal in one game against Paidha Black Angels (Photo: David Isabirye)

Nelson Senkatuka (Bright Stars)

There is a reason coaches at times have to be patient with players particularly strikers.

Football like chess is a game that calls for patience. Right from building of play from the back, to central midfield through to the forward line, the goals eventually come.

Nelson Senkatuka completed the season with 16 goals, five of which came in one game against Paidha Black Angels at the apex of the season.

It takes patience and sheer commitment to serve a club for the entire season as the leading talisman and captain.

Bashir Mutanda was phenomenal especially in the first half of the season

Bashir Mutanda (SC Villa):

Sports Club Villa fans will live to remember the name Bashir Mutanda.

Despite surviving in the turbulent season, Mutanda remained calm and composed before the goal-line.

Mutanda transferred the goal scoring into a funny act, finding the back of the net with ease even though the club remained to be tatters.

As he suffered injury set-backs because of the hectic schedule and definite demand to deliver the goods home, Ronald Magwali, Pius Wangi and Charles  ‘Neymar’ Lwanga took over.

Mike Hilary Mutebi (Photo: John Batanudde)

Technical Team:

  • Manager: Mike Hilary Mutebi (KCCA)
  • Assistant Coach 1: Charles Livingstone Mbabazi (Mbarara City)
  • Assistant coach 2: Wasswa Bbosa (Tooro United)
  • Goalkeeping coaches: Steven Billy Kiggundu (URA) & Moses Oloya (Vipers)
  • Medic:: Ivan Ssewanyana (KCCA)
Charles Livingstone Mbabazi (Photo: David Isabirye)

Honourable Mentions:

Charles Lukwago, Goalkeeper (KCCA), Shafik ‘Kuchi’ Kagimu (URA), Ivan Eyam (Mbarara City), Timothy Dennis Awany (KCCA), Hassan ‘Gaata’ Kalega (Police), Brian Nkuubi Ssemakula (Vipers), Pistis Barenge (Mbarara City), Hilary Mukundane (Mbarara City), John Revita (Express), Allan Kayiwa (Tooro United), Mike Mutyaba (KCCA), Ivan Eyam (Mbarara City), Dan Birikwalira (Bright Stars)

Best Fan: George Sserunkuma (SC Villa)

George Sserunkuma has been lively and colourful throughout the season (Photo: David Isabirye)

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