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Uganda Premier League

UPL Season Preview: Do Kyetume have enough to stay up?

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Kyetume FC players and officials celebrate their qualification to the top flight / Courtesy Image

Kyetume FC do have a not-so-secret weapon within the club, but that won’t stop those involved with the club from dreaming of survival and more come May 2020.

Despite the huge cloud of doubt that lingers above the club with many questionings if they are really a top-tier club.

Representing Mukono, the Slaughters will be looking at following in the footsteps of clubs like Mbarara City, Kirinya Jinja SS (now Busoga United) and Onduparaka who have defied odds to become household names.

The club have had near misses of promotion in the recent past, Kyetume arrive in the top flight as worthy victors of a thrilling play-off final that took a huge amount of winning. They are a team on the rise and have bought in players familiar with the demands of top-flight football.

The club lost the coaching duo of Jackson Mayanja and Allan Kabonge after guiding them to promotion, but they acted swiftly by naming George ‘Best’ Nsimbe as their replacement.

George Best during his days at AZAM FC in Tanzania, he will coach Kyetume in the Ugandan top tier next season / Courtesy Photo

And in Nsimbe they have a coach who has seen it all in his coaching career, with experience from all over the region, and that will provide the club of much-needed league experience and leadership from the dugout.

Nsimbe comes in with a burgeoning reputation as a tactician and motivator of the highest regard whose career traverses the region with stints at Azam FC, Tusker, Vipers and KCCA in Uganda. Where he won the 2016 Uganda cup and back to back league trophies respectively.

Nsimbe concedes that his team is not going to win as many games as they did last season. But whether he stays true to his principles will be something to look out for given he likes his teams to keep possession and attack with pace and width.

Kyetume posed a huge threat from wide areas in the second division, perhaps the reason Nsimbe has sought to add depth in that department with Michael Birungi and Siraje Turyamureeba joining while Captain Vincent Kayizzi agreeing to a new two-year contract already feels like a new acquisition.

Sande Steven at left back has huge potential albeit with rough edges. Joel Mutakubwa commands presence in goal while Baker Buyala is a harmless punt as a backup striker Nsimbe can develop and Isaac Kirabira is a pretty exciting addition.

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Robert Ssentongo (R) of Kyetume vies for the ball with Arnold Sserunjogi of Proline during the first leg of the Stanbic Uganda Cup in Mukono. PHOTO BY MAKHTUM MUZIRANSA / DAILY MONITOR

However, their defensive additions of Yayo Lutimba, Sam Ssenkoomi, Shafik ‘Nana’ Kakeeto and Julius Ntambi will definitely provide leadership, experience and surely improve the spirits of those around them but they may be targeted by sides especially those who break slickly.

The failure to hold onto Godfrey Bunni and Owen Kasule raises serious concern as the club lost an intelligent midfield pivot around which much of their play revolved. The lack of enough cover in holding midfield poses huge worries for a side that will be chasing many of their games.

Key to their survival will be their attacking intent as they topped scoring charts in the Elgon group but Kyetume must be clinical if they are to avoid trouble and that will rest on the shoulders of striker Robert Ssentongo. He may not carry the same threat as he did five years ago but he will be a useful outlet.

Ssentongo is a proven goal scorer and he remains the only player to bag three consecutive golden boot awards and his hattrick in the playoff finals reminded many of his threat. If he can score with the regularity of last season, Kyetume will find a comfortable spot.

While it should go without saying that the gulf in class between the Big league and the top division is considerable, Kyetume need to have a good start to the season to settle any early nerves.

Evidently, some poor teams managed to avoid relegation last season, Kyetume may have the favourites’ tag for relegation but they are entitled to have confidence that over the course of the season, at least three teams will secure fewer points than them.

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