Abbey Kikomeko has always been touted as one of the talented coaches in the StarTimes Uganda Premier League, but his perrenial battles with Busoga United in the relegation dungeons has not given him a chance to prove his worth.
For the last nine years or so, the coach has been balancing between coaching and side hustles to keep his life going.
Throughout the decade-long career at the club, the coach has largely been involved in rebuilding and patching up playing units that were endlessly depleted by player exodus due to the club’s dire financial status. His work was to scout and groom for others to snatch.
He shocked his competitors by finishing fourth in the 2019/20 season despite losing several key players in the midseason. The soft-spoken coach hastily promoted junior league players like Isma Mugulusi, Lawrence Tezikya and Vincent Zziwa, who went on to do a quality job.
He took a breather from Busoga’s chaos at the beginning of last season to pursue a smaller but tasking duty to push Mbale Heroes from the third division to the Fufa Big League.
He achieved that instantly, catching the eyes of some top-flight suitors. Among them was Soltilo Bright Stars and Bul, but he settled for the latter for obvious reasons.
“I have been fighting to get a team that is well-facilitated so that I can expose my potential and that is exactly what Bul is offering me. The team has made some tremendous achievements in the recent past, and that gives me a challenge to perform better and even surpass that.,” Kikomeko told Daily Monitor.
The coach replaced Alex Isabirye, who had broken their barrenness in 2022 by winning the Stanbic Uganda Cup.
“Bul is supposed to be competing for both trophies [Uganda Cup and the league] because that is where the club is expected to be, and we’ll push for both,” he adds.
True to his words, Kikomeko has already started sending signals of what to expect from his team.
The coach navigated the deep waters to beat SC Villa, defending league champions Vipers and URA to win the Fufa Super Eight preseason tournament.
At Bul, Kikomeko has finally reunited with some of the top players he groomed and churned out at Busoga.
They include Uganda Cranes goalkeepers Tom Ikara and Joel Mutakubwa, midfielder George Kasonko, Douglas Muganga, Nicholas Mwere, Tezikya and Joel Madondo.
Others are Ibrahim Kazindula, Jerome Kirya, Ibrahim Mugulusi and Zziwa.
All the 11 were crucial in the team’s success in the preseason tournament.
“I have handled most of these players, and now that I know them very well, they know what we want. They know that I’m a business-oriented man and not here for showbiz,” the coach said about his choice to work with the largely former Busoga United players.
His experience blending the Jinja SSS project and Busoga United is expected to come in handy as Bul aim to build from their triumphant junior league graduates.
That aside, Bul has added enough quality and depth -at least according to Ugandan standards- to their squad. The team lost their goalkeeper, Saidi Keni, to Ethiopia, but the options in Ikara and Mutakubwa are a testament to the strength in their ranks.
Alex Kitata crossed over from Gaddafi after scoring eight goals but is yet to start a match, playing second-fiddle to Charles Ssekamatte. In Madondo, Tezikya, Martin Aprem and Reagan Kalyoowa, Kikomeko has options to solve the goals puzzle.
Nickname: The Eastern Giants
Stadium: Fufa Technical Centre, Njeru
Chairman: Eng. Ronald Barente
Coach: Abbey Bogere Kikomeko
Last season’s ranking: Seventh