Africa-Press – Uganda. Last season, URA came closest to winning their first Uganda Premier League title in a decade before settling for second position when the league was called off with four games to spare.
Continuing with coach Sam Ssimbwa therefore seemed like a no-brainer having made the club competitive again since taking charge toward the end of the 2018 campaign.
Then, he found a sinking ship, thumped 7-2 by KCCA before parting ways with coach Paul Nkata as they finished 10th.
The subsequent seasons saw the club finish third in 2019, fifth in 2020 before last season’s second place finish.
The Tax Collectors, however, still parted ways with Ssimbwa after the two parties failed to agree to an improved deal.
Therein lies the club’s problem. Public spats with then CEO Ivan Kakembo marred Ssimbwa’s time at the club while he could not also be described as best of friends with Henry Mayeku, Kakembo’s replacement.
The club also stumbled upon coach Sam Timbe whose relationship with his former player Simeon Masaba will be key if they are to achieve any success.
Timbe was hired as “team manager” to fill the void created by Masaba, a Caf Licence C holder and who falls short of Caf’s requirement for a Caf A holder as head coach.
Amid the changes, Masaba oversaw the off-season recruitment exercise that saw James Alitho and Saidi Kyeyune return to the club. He also added to the club’s backroom staff with former Cranes defender Edward Ssali while Stephen Kiggundu was retained as goalkeeping coach.
Speedster Vianne Ssekajugo joined from Wakiso Giants and Kabon Livin reunited with Masaba for whom they played under at Onduparaka.
The club also signed Hippos defender Simon Baligeya (Busia Young), Andrew Isiagi, Derrick Ndahiro (Villa) and recalled 20-year-old Najib Feisali from loan spell at Gaddafi.
Feisali has already impressed in central defence in the two home and away games of the Caf Confederation Cup leading to a Cranes call up.
The additions make URA a formidable force with the ever improving forwards Steven Mukwala and Cromwell Rwothomio now full Cranes internationals.
There’s also an abundance of attacking options behind them led by captain Shafik Kagimu, whose telepathy with Kyeyune should terrorise opponents.
URA, however, appear short in the defensive midfield area should Julius Mutyaba not return from Europe where he had gone for family engagements.
Patrick Mbowa has filled in from central defence after the club opted not to renew Ivan Ntege’s contract. Ivan Sserubiri and Brian Nkuubi all provide midfield options but lack the presence and defensive qualities of Mutyaba.
With such a deep squad, it remains to be seen how the coaches will set up the team that is clearly appears ready for a league title pursuit.
URA transfers in
James Alitho Saidi Kyeyune Vianne Ssekajugo
Simon Baligeya Andrew Isiagi Livin Kabon
Derrick Ndahiro Najib Feisali Hannington Sebwalunyo
Steven Munguchi Ivan Ntege Michael Birungi Brian Majwega
At a glance
Nickname The Tax Collectors
Last season 2nd
Coach Sam Timbe
Captain Shafik Kagimu
H. ground Ndejje
CEO Henry Mayeku