Express were officially crowned StarTimes Uganda Premier League (SUPL) champions this week after ending the 2020/21 top of the standings.
The Red Eagles were winning their seventh league title overall and first since 2012, when coach Sam Ssimbwa led them to the gong
Coach Wasswa Bbosa’s men ended the 2020/21 campaign on 58 points, one and two more than second-placed URA and Vipers in third respectively.
They were declared champions after local soccer authorities, Fufa, invoked the 75% force majeure rule to end the season with four games to go, thanks to the Covid-enforced national lockdown.
For their consistency above the rest, Express were deserving winners. But which 11 players stood out the most in the league?
A return of 13 clean sheets in 24 games for the Express goalkeeper is a decent show by any standards. Muwanga’s statistic is the best in the league, and his team tye unmistakable deserving champions. It was also an inspirational story for Muwanga, the 2016 UPL Goalkeeper of the Year, after he recovered from a career threatening back problem, which saw him miss half of the previous season.
Benjamin Nyakoojo (URA)
The hardworking central defender’s tenacity, tackling and aerial ability forced URA coach Sam Ssimbwa to break up the otherwise solid partnership of Hood Mulikyi and Paul Mbowa. Nyakoojo also contributed some goals and was clearly a much improved player to the one that once played for Vipers and Masavu.
Murushid Juuko (Express)
He was signed as a big boy and was expected to bring experience of being a senior Cranes defender to Express backline. Murushid Jjuuko did not disappoint. His assuredness, good game reading and telepathic partnership with Isa Lumu formed the bedrock of a defensive line that conceded the least number of goals at 13. Of course it also did help that Express captain Enoch Walusimbi quickly settled in well at right back.
Hassan Mahmood (Police)
The intelligent Police defender also adds aggressiveness and strong tackles to his game. The former Onduparaka central defender can also play across the back four and is comfortable in midfield, too. He also chipped in with six league goals, including a memorable hattrick in the 3-1 win over Mbarara City in March.
Bobosi Byaruhanga (Vipers)
He was so consistent Byaruhanga dislodged Siraje Sentamu from the defensive midfield position, which the latter had made his own. Byaruhanga boasts of a superb passing range, industry and also has an eye for goal. He was one of the star performers as Uganda Hippos made the final of the 2021 U20 Afcon final.
Joseph Akandwanaho (Bright Stars)
The former Nyamityobora left footer was a breath of fresh air with his incisive dribbling and work-rate. He finished the season with eight goals and five assists.
Isma Mugulusi (Busoga United)
He is one of the country’s biggest prospects. Mugulusi’s excursions with the national under-20 team, the Hippos, coupled with a tight school schedule and injuries limited him to just 14 league appearances. But even then, they were enough for him to show his qualities as he helped a struggling Busoga United stay in the league. He finished with four goals, two assists and three man of the match awards.
Shafic Kagimu (URA)
Kagimu has been one of the most consistent players in recent league campaigns, and the just ended one was not different. His ability to dominate games and unlock defences with a pass or goal is the reason they breathed down on Express’ neck until the lockdown interrupted. The tax collectors’ captain scored nine goals and made six assists.
Yunus Ssentamu (Vipers)
His goal scoring ability was never in doubt when Vipers announced Sentamu had re-signed for the club. However, many wondered if he might have lost his touch after his two-year sabbatical. But striker showed he still has an eye for goal, topping the charts with 16 having missed the opening five games of the season.
Eric Kambale (Express)
Kambale has been in and out of Wankulukuku in the last three seasons, but finally settled in in the just ended one. Probably the best header of the ball in the domestic league, Kambale also scored an array of goals types, mainly in the second round, in which he found the back of the net 12 times. He finshed with 15.
Steven Mukwala (URA)
Having emerged league top scorer with 13 goals the previous season with relegated Maroons, there were doubts about whether Mukwala could cut it at a title-chasing club. His ended the campaign with 14 goals for URA