After a busy close season in the transfer market, freshly promoted Proline FC kick off their bid for a new lease of Uganda Premiership life at the Philip Omondi Stadium on Tuesday evening by entertaining Express FC.
The visit of Alex Gitta’s squad, third last season, will provide a tricky first examination for a Proline side that has seen change aplenty in the close season since winning the Fufa Big League.
Owner cum head coach Mujib Kasule knows his side will have a tough time breaking into a Red Eagles back three comprised of three of the Uganda’s most admired defenders, Kazibwe Ismael, Kasozi Bob, Matovu Farooque and Sam Ssenkoomi.
But he insists that is partly what Proline’s new season is about.
“There are great expectations. Apparently people are discounting our abilities but it is never that easy,” he said.
On the opposing side, former KCCA striker, Herman Wasswa, does not face his former side but comes back to the Lugogo ground that has been his home until he was let go during the offseason.
He has since joined Express, and he could not have started his Red Eagles career in a finer way. Wasswa netted a double as the Red Eagles saw off stubborn Lweza 2-1 in their opening match and will be intent on conjuring up some run. He made his season mission clear after that victory over Lweza.
“I want to be the league top scorer this season to show my former club (KCCA) what they missed in sending me away,” he said.
Proline will have taken heed. Yet, Express themselves cannot allow complacency to creep in. The Red Eagles come up against Proline talisman Edris Lubega, who helped the side back up. Gitta’s Express also know too well how hard it is to beat units set up by Mujib Kasule.
Bright Stars vs Onduparaka (Live on Azam TV @ 4pm in CS – Matugga)
Having lost a big chuck of his stars including Mathias Kigonya (Sofapaka), Jimmy Lule (URA), Anthony Bongole (Police), Bernard Muwanga, and Joseph Nsubuga (all SC Villa) among others, Bright Stars coach Fred Kajoba will have counted the point against Vipers last Friday. The Cranes goalkeeping coach has only Nicholas Ssebwato (SC Villa) and Andrew Kaggwa (Saints) as the noticeable signings but Bright Stars were not far from upsetting Abdallah Mubiru’s Vipers at Nakivubo. On Tuesday, the Stars host formidable Onduparaka counting on their decent home record. That it is their first home game will give them great encouragement to get out of the blocks. Kajoba will hope Fred Ssegujja, scorer in Bright Stars 1-1 draw with Vipers, displays the same form against Onduparaka. Yet in coach Leo Adraa’s Onduparaka they face a resilient force. The Northern Uganda side drew goalless their opener with Soana.
JMC Hippos vs Kirinya-Jinja SS – Kakindu Stadium, Jinja (4:30pm)
This Jinja derby is expected to fill Kakindu Stadium with frenzied fans. James Odoch’s JMC will be looking to pick their first point following a 2-1 opening day defeat to KCCA while Alex Isabirye’s Kirinya-Jinja SS will want to build onto their priceless point after their goalless draw with four-time league champions, URA, last Friday. Odoch will hope Vianney Ssekajugo, scorer of their sole goal against KCCA, is back to the fore while Isabirye is desperate for his strikers to get it started.
Lweza vs KCCA– Wankulukuku Stadium
This fixture has Geoffrey Sserunkuma, the KCCA striker, written all over it. The Ugandan international returns to Wankulukuku with no encouraging words for Lweza, the club he left during the offseason for KCCA. Fresh from heading in KCCA’s winner in the 2-1 victory over JMC at Lugogo last Friday, Sserunkuma is determined to add to his goal tally when his side tackle his former employers. “Scoring in my first league game, that is always good for any striker’s confidence,” said Sserunkuma after opening his account, “But we have more work to do against Lweza. I’m now in a club with title ambitions. I want to try and score in every game.” Asked about his feelings on facing his former side, Sserunkuma said, via his club website. “We will be friends off the field but become enemies on the pitch.” KCCA creative architect, Muzamir Mutyaba, missed the previous game through injury but returns for manager Mike Mutebi’s outfit. He is likely to replace Paul Mucureezi behind a three-man attack of Sserunkuma, Vincent Kayizzi and Brian Majwega. But KCCA defence will have to be awake in the face of Karim Ndugwa, the former Villa player, who also opened his scoring account against Express.
Soana vs The Saints– Kavumba R. Grounds
The two will both have been happy scampering out of their openers with a point. Soana drew goalless away to Onduparaka while Sadolin Paints posted the same result at the Saints. The impetus for Soana is in the new coach Sam Ssimbwa. The former KCCA coach was handed the reins to replace Charles Ayiekoh, who threw in the towel over a week ago, citing infringement from the club boss. Ssimbwa, who has just completed serving his eight-month ban for conducting himself in what Fufa described as “an unethical manner and uttering statements that jeopardized the authenticity of results and integrity of matches,” will take charge of his first match as Soana coach.
Sadolin Paints vs SC Villa – Bugembe Stadium, Jinja
SC Villa’s scoring woes from last season again manifested in the goalless draw away to Police. They travel to Sadolin Paints, another side looking for their first victory following aq 0-0 draw at the Saints. Mike Sserumaga, who missed a penalty against Police, will again be the man tasked by Villa coach Deo Sserwadda to make things happen for the record 16-time league champions.
Vipers SC vs Police FC – Nakivubo Stadium
New signing Ibrahim Kayiwa leapt highest to head home left-back Dan Bilikwalira’s cross on 61 minutes for an equalizer and to save Vipers and coach Mubiru blushes. Mubiru will hope for more positivity as he takes charge of his second game as Vipers coach when they host Police at Nakivubo. Mubiru will also hope striker Tony Odur is in his groove against a Police side that beat Vipers 3-1 last season. Odur, who is making a second stint at Vipers, and Brian Kakaire will make their debuts for the club having missed the opener against Bright Stars.
URA vs Bul– Mehta Stadium, Lugazi
Kefa Kisala and his URA side started on a deceptive note, drawing goalless with league newcomers Kirinya-SS. They face another side that posted the same result at home to Proline. It will be a fight to pick the first league win for either side and that alone makes for nice viewing.