A recent poll carried out by football-256 on twitter, to determine Uganda’s biggest rivalry currently, placed SC Villa vs Express as the second biggest rivalry in the land. However, the 19% garnered in the poll is a huge undervalue to the fixture.
Twenty-two league trophies have been shared amongst these two rivals, surely league football doesn’t get any bigger than this. A new chapter is set to be written in this great story when Express host SC Villa at the Betway Muteesa II stadium on Friday.
Both teams may only be a shaddow of their old selves, with either scrapping for survival in recent times, but one thing is certain; neither would ever take a defeat againsy the other lightly.
Losing to Onduparaka last week, produced comments of ‘Poor old Express’, while the radicals immediately called for the sacking of head coach George Ssemwogerere.
At that point of the season, Express were yet to pick up a victory in a league game, losing two of their opening games and picking up a single draw against Bright Stars.
With the odds well stack up against his team, the red eagles grinded out a dramatic 3-2 victory over Mbarara city on Tuesday.
Just like their visitors, Express are not expected to fight for the league title, but unlike others, Ssimwogerere has had to deal with easing his new arrivals into action in a demanding and not so patient environment.
Although there has been as many negatives, there has been positives as well. And time will be required for Ssimwogerere’s ideas to fully bed at Wankulukuku.
Nevertheless, a home derby showdown with the club’s biggest enemies is the perfect occasion for them to show why they have been brought to the club, especially in the case of striker Frank Kalanda. Skipper Disan Galiwango seems to be one they can rely on after his performance against Mbarara.
After surviving relegation late on last season, plus the second per improvements made to the squad over the preseason, life at Villa was anticipated to get even harder for Villa.
Edward Kaziba despite serving as assistant coach to Crested Cranes coach Faridah Bulega was deemed to be largely in-experienced. Villa faithful had every right to be worried about the season.
However, the record league champions have come through the opening period of the league with lots of positives to take. They are currently top of the league with seven points from four games, albeit three of those have come through a board room decision.
Despite sitting top of the league, Villa are still not favorite in the title race, and coach Edward Kaziba will be quick to spell it out to his players before they get carried away with the excitement created by the situation.
All worries are not settled, the Jogoo have managed to pick up a win and a draw against Mbarara city and Police FC and lost to newly promoted side Kyetume, in the games they have been physically involved in.
Apart from the Mbarara game, the other games have asked questions of Villa. Physically they are in good shape, but in the final third they still look dependent on Bashir Mutanda for the creative spark.
Despite not finding the back of the net, his importance has been highlighted in the games he has struggled. It is evident why Villa were reluctant to let him leave. Another player who has been that important to Villa is David Owori.
The midfielder has been solid and has covered the most ground in all their matches. He also put in quite a shift when he was played as a make shift right back, grabbing the opening goal against Mbarara.
The Red Eagles will be without goalkeeper Mathias Muwanga who is still nursing a back injury. Emmanuel Baffoe will also miss the game due to a muscle injury while Hamdan Nsubuga and Frank Ssenyondo are also unavailable for the encounter due to injury problems.
Villa on the other hand welcomed back Albert Mugisa from injury against Police FC and he will be expected to be involved from the start. Overall, they don’t have any serious injuries to worry about.
Villa took more of the plaudits last season, Bashir Mutanda’s brace guided them to victory in the first round, while former Express defender Shafik Bakaki cancelled out Disan’s earlier strike.
Overall, Villa hold the upper hand as they have won six of the last 12 games between the sides. Express have picked up just three victories with the remainder ending with stalemates.