February 10, 2014

SOCCER SAINTS; Unplugging Big League Giants Saints FC’s Focused Heroes

Sunday: The Saints vs Vurra at Namboole

The second round of the FUFA Big League is around the corner, the scramble for top places in the two groups; Rwenzori and Elgon rages on. Kickoff’s Denis Bbosa visited Rwenzori group giants Saints FC and unearthed the interesting tales of these brave lads who breathe nothing else but Super League promotion. Below are the profiles:

SaintsUmar Mulumba (DF)

The 23-year-old former Saints FC captain is yearning to taste regular football again after undergoing a stressful emotional moment emanating from a family wrangle. Mulumba whose scoring exploits on the left wing was instrumental in the promotion of Mukono Pirates to the regional league. Kanu as pals fondly refer to him, Mulumba firmly believes he is in the shape to return to the team’s starting eleven. “I want to add to the 5 games I played last season and reclaim my armband. My dream is to captain my mother club in the Super League next season,” the Pepper Publications employee confidently revealed.

Seif Ali (MF)

Still out injured, the defensive midfielder who played 7 of the 10 games in first round is optimistic of retaining his slot upon return, new competition notwithstanding. Along with combative Ivan Okot, Chris Mayombwe and industrious Godfrey Buni, Ali, 21, anchored a formidable midfield that placed the Saints in the fifth position. Nicknamed Kabaka, the IT graduate from Crane Media, Wandegeya who adores former Spanish midfield anchor Marcos Senna will now face competition from the experienced Emma Balyejusa who arrived before the transfer window closed last week.

Julius Madepi (DF)

‘The Lost Brazilian’ has inked a name in the fans’ hearts for his bravery despite being diminutive. At 17, the UCU first year Bachelor of International Business student is living his dream of emulating childhood hero Simeon Masaba both at club and national level. Though he has been carrying a nagging back injury, Madepi only missed the Baza game in the first round and continues to post match winning performances that have attracted the attention of several Super league giants. He was part of that schools dream team that included Feni Ali, Ceaser Okhuti and Godfrey Buni that dominated the Copa Coca-Cola tourney in 2009.

Vianney Ssekajugo (MF)

The attacking gem comes from KJT with lots of experience and expectations. Dubbed the young Messi, the 17-year-old is unfazed about the presence of starters Farouq Kawooya, Nicholas Odongo and Magala. “I am here to take Saints to the Promised Land, how I will do it is the other thing fans and doubters should look out for,” the reserved versatile winger stressed.

Moses Okello (DF)

The gangly former CRO defender is not concerned with swapping league status with Big League challenge. His ability to play in defensive midfield and defence earned him the name Baba in reference to former Cranes and KCC FC patrolling midfielder Noah Kasule Babadi. The 18-year-old former, Boroboro and KCC FC player, who takes Frenchman Claude Makelele as a hero, admits he is here to bolster the team’s defensive abilities and reduce on the number of goals conceded. “His timely acquisition was priceless,” confirmed club coach Mark Twinamatsiko.

Ismail Sserugwa (GK)

This Iker Casillas fanatic knows the challenge he faces in upstaging first choice Mustapha Kasule and second choice Ramathan Male but continues to dream. For starters, the 17-year-old who looks up to SCVU custodian Benjamin Ochan, has been first choice at Kireka United for the last two years and believes that with hard work he can capture that coveted number one jersey. ”I am not here to enjoy the splendid diet and facilitation, I came here to get a spring to greater heights,” said Sserugwa who still lives with his parents at Kirinya, Bweyogerere.

Tony Magala (MF)

The fleet-footed right winger who was only benched twice in the first round is destined for hard times if the arrival of lightening Ronald Musana from CRO is anything to go by. Magala, 19, who doubles as a sand truck driver in Kiwanga however sees this as an opportunity to up his game and probably give the coach more options. His Vincent Kayizzi-like style of play is hard to ignore which piles selection problems to the coach.

Dimunitive winger Magala in action
Dimunitive winger Magala in action

Nicholas Odongo (MF)

From Pepper FC to Mukono Pirates and now Saints FC, the 17-year-old winger’s stock has grown in leaps and bounds. A qualified Electrician from Nakawa Vocational Institute, Odongo will for now focus on retaining his number. “ I didn’t score in the 8 games I played having missed the Ndejje and Mutundwe games but with this new challenge I have to spice up my trade with a couple of goals. Coach Mark has instilled patience and commitment in us which will take us places,” vowed Odongo who just can’t miss watching Man City dribbler Edin Hazard in action.

Rajab Jooga (FD)

It will be interesting to see how the former SC Villa and SCVU net- buster will break into the established Rashid Kiyini- Alex Benzema Kitatta partnership that scores goals for fun. Limited to 3 games at SCVU due to constant injuries, the 21-year-old is certainly seeking for revival having showed shades of potential in his early years at Misindye Soana. Considering the team’s meager goal return in the first round, Jooga’s presence is most welcome as back-up or starter.

Rashid Kiyini (FD)

Finally the 20-year-old goal machine will get a chance to feature in the Big League after a year out with a recurring knee injury. Overly elated, ‘Kiyinho’ is targeting reuniting with Kitatta to revive the deadly ‘Ki-Benz’ that plundered over 50 goals for Pirates last season. A brace against Super league side Bright Stars this week in the 2-1 win confirmed to many that the gaudy forward still has that midas touch. “I want to repay management’s faith with a brace against Bombo FC on Saturday (today) and try to chase the leading scorer,” he promised.

Godfrey Bwire (DF)

To the team captain, the wise recruitment couldn’t have come at a better time. “I can smell the scent of Super league soccer especially after beefing up our forward line,” he said. The 23-year-old also applauded the team’s improved creativity that has seen them put big clubs like URA, SCVU and Kira Young to the sword. A shrewd businessman in his free time, the former KCC FC player is planning opening up a sports selling depot in Mukono to rival Katumwa sports centre. As of now Bwire, who treasures former Cranes captain Simeon Masaba and Man United aging defender Rio Ferdinand, is nursing a shoulder injury that may rule him out of action for weeks.

Alex Benzema Kitatta (FD)

Two vital goals in the three matches he managed to play after injury make ‘Benzema’ a must-have jewel for every progressive side in soccer. An accomplished fox in the box, Benzema amazes many when he turns provider in games when he is marked out. The 19-year-old former Carts Kayunga and Pirates forward believes an opportunity with the Cranes and professional stint is not far away if he continues doing what he does best; banging in goals.

Industrious striker Kitata controls the ball before unleashing a scorcher
Industrious striker Kitata controls the ball before unleashing a scorcher

Robert Kasolo (DF)

The three matches he missed in the first round were enough to show how dearly the club missed him. In fact management acted first in searching for his cover in Edward Koome but the 17-year-old who wants to emulate former Cranes left-back Nestrooy Kizito remains the first choice.

Edward Koome (DF)

The former Luzira United and Victors FC left-back is trying to rediscover his league form after a lull with hibernating Victors. The 19-year-old’s style of play is akin to Gor Mahia’s Godfrey Walusimbi and Bayern Munich’s David Alaba but at times he is let down by his diminutive structure. With promotion high on the club’s agenda, Koome’s experience may come in handy.

Emma Balyejusa (MF)

By all standards the 33-year-old is now the most senior player in the squad having played at Iganga, Villa, Atraco, Nalubaale, Kira Young, URA FC, Misindye and the Cranes. Still combative and attacking, ‘Huruki Tagawa’ as he is referred to by colleagues will add vibrancy in that midfield that has hitherto been devoid of attacking power. His longtime friend and mentor, Simeon Masaba advised him to join Saints if he is to resurrect his hopes of playing competitive soccer. “I will respect the coach’s decision even if it’s getting benched but I must admit I have got to work hard to fit in the team of these competent lads,” revealed Balyejusa who played for Cranes under Paul Hasule (RIP), Mohammad Abbas and Lazlo Czaba.

Nelson Ssempagala (CM)

He joins from regional league side UCU though he had a stint at Vila Jogo that groomed him through the academy basics. The 22-year-old almost aided UCU to Big League qualification last season only to lose out to a more determined and facilitated Lweza United. His availability only serves to widen Twinamatsiko’s selection pool.

Ronald Musana (MF)

Another valuable mid season acquisition that will certainly overturn Saints fortunes next round. The 21-year-old who sat his S.6 exams last year at Ntinda View SS made headlines in 2011 when he scored 14 goals for Kyagwe in the Masaza cup that caught the attention of Villa who instantly signed him. Competition from Moses Ndawula, Herman Wasswa, Emma Kalyowa and Edirisa Kaye connived to drive him out of Villa Park to CRO where he played until his recent switch to the Mukono based Saints FC. The tall forward can thrive as a lone striker no wonder he adores Portuguese striker Ricardo Quaresma and Uganda’s Moses Oloya.

Godfrey Buni (MF)

Despite playing all the ten matches, the industrious midfield general is yet to find the back of the net which increases pressure from fans. Wait a minute, he knows it and promises to work on it especially with the arrival of new partner Balyejjusa. ‘Agonda’ which is Buni’s alias derived from his swiftness with the ball, can hardly find a midfielder better than Martin Kayongo Mutumba whom he had a chance to watch train while on trials in Sweden.

Ronald Musana (R) showing off his number 7 jersey
Ronald Musana (R) showing off his number 7 jersey
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