(Photo credit: Mbarara City FC)
STARTIMES UGANDA PREMIER LEAGUE
|Mbarara City||3-0||Kirinya Jinja SSS|
By Joseph Kizza
Mbarara City FC thrashed Kirinya Jinja SSS FC 3-0 on Wednesday to gain a measure of sweet revenge over a team that beat them home and away last season.
Two first-half goals and another after the interval ended the match as a contest as the Ankole Lions cemented their stay up the table with the big boys. They are in third behind leaders KCCA FC and second-placed Vipers SC.
Lanky South Sudanese-born Makweth Wol capitalised on a defensive mixup to stab the hosts in front at Kakyeka Stadium midway into the opening half. Former KCCA forward Paul Mucureezi then made it two just before the half-time whistle.
Jude Ssemugabi will undoubtedly hog the honours after providing the assist for both goals, before switching roles to score the third goal 12 minutes before time, this time Mucureezi the assist man.
The hosts comfortably saw this one out, having proved a mouthful for Kirinya, who failed to find a consolation goal on the road.
When Mbarara City were promoted to Uganda's top division football in 2017, it was a perfect case of strolling into uncharted territory. But a 11th-place finish at the end of the 2017/18 season provided them a perfect launch pad for life in the premier league going forward.
A seismic twist to their script before the start of the latest campaign nearly cost them participation after an inspection of their home turf found the Kakyeka Stadium lacking in the standards required to host premier league matches.
After a successful appeal to local football governing body FUFA, the club worked its way through that tumultuous phase and got back on their feet to take part in the league.
Fourteen games later and their storyline is worth paying closer attention to. Eight wins, three draws and three defeats presents an impressive report card for a team only one-and-a-half seasons into top-flight football.
Last season, as league debutants, Mbarara were beaten 2-0 and 1-0 home and away, respectively, by Kirinya.
But how quickly time flies by!
On Wednesday, they hosted the same side that subjected them to back-to-back defeats, but this time around, Mbarara were looking to reverse their fortunes in front of a home support full in voice and belief.
In a first half of chances, the hosts eventually got the breathrough 22 minutes into the game. Kirinya goalkeeper Emmanuel Rubangakene and his defenders got tangled in a web to allow Wol to punish them.
Mucureezi improved the lead after Ssemugabi's deft run past minders Wilson Makuro and Rajab Sabir on the right flank to feed in the former KCCA attacker, who won two league titles with the 12-time league champions and current table toppers.
That second goal came in added time of the first half to give the home side a comfortable cushion.
After the restart, the chances at goal by either side were few and far between. But it did not stop the Ankole Lions from adding gloss to the scoreline with a third. Mucureezi turned provider to allow the industrious Ssemugabi, who joined the club around the same time as Mucureezi, to sweep in the third goal.
In the end, three wins from their last five games is a record so good on the eye for Mbarara ahead of their last first round game against close rivals Vipers, who returned to winning ways on Tuesday with a 3-0 victory over fourth-placed Onduparaka FC.
Defeat, meanwhile, subjected Kirinya to a second loss in their last five games, leaving them in 10th place in the bottom half of the log.
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