SC Villa will open a two-point lead at the top of the StarTimes Uganda Premier League (SUPL) table on Friday – the first time the 16-time record champions will be assuming leadership in a very long time – if they beat Wakiso Giants.
The last few seasons have seen Villa, last league champions in 2004, involved in relegation battles, unpaid salary cries and overall poor player welfare.
Authorities seem to have tamed the welfare bit, and results in the first six games suggest the Joogos have put up enough cushion to avoid any relegation scuffles.
After a rather uncertain pre-season dominated by cyclic player exodus, Jackson Magera and Ibrahim Kirya quietly assumed head and assistant coaching roles and focused on trialists and hungry youngsters.
They did their best to spread hope but in all honesty, little of that spread into the Villa faithful at the start as the fans lamented on social media questioning the club’s direction.
But six matches into the season and there is life again Villa. Fans are happy again and believing.
Magera’s boys – second on the table with 13 points after four wins in six matches – host another impressive side in Wakiso Giants at Mutesa II Wankulukuku Stadium looking to overtake leaders Bul by two points.
But Magera is quick to caution against unnecessary expectations. “We are still far from where we want to be,” said the villa coach after their 1-0 win over Soltilo Bright Stars in their last outing.
“The team is still growing. Most of the players are new and young and it will take some time to perfectly match.
“They are still adapting to the game. However, we want to build as we compete.”
Magera, whose side boast of the tightest defence having conceded just once, will count on the likes of Charles Bbaale – two goals to his name so far, and the two Ivans – Bogere and Sserubiri – among others to hurt the Purple Sharks.
Against coach John ‘Ayala’ Luyinda’s Wakiso Giants, they face a formidable side that are also targeting joint top after collecting 11 points from six matches.
They have beaten URA and drawn with Vipers SC in their last two matches, and in Moses Aliro, Ibrahim Kasule and Norman Ogik, who have each scored two goals so far, Villa have their hands full.
Up north, there is the small matter of defending champions Vipers, who face hosts Blacks Power at Akii Bua Stadium looking to get going again after their draw at Wakiso.
Vipers are 10th on five points from four games while Blacks Power are second from bottom on two points.
StarTimes Uganda Premier League
SC Villa vs. Wakiso Giants, Muteesa II Stadium, Wankulukuku, TV
Blacks Power vs. Vipers SC, Akii Bua Memorial Stadium, Lira, TV
Onduparaka vs. Busoga United, Bombo Military Ground, Bombo, Luwero, 2pm, TV (Closed doors)
URA vs. Arua Hill SC, Nakisunga Saza Ground, Mukono, 4pm, TV