KAMPALA - When the second round of the StarTimes Uganda Premier League kicks off early next year, defending champions KCCA will get down to business knowing all too well their title defence is still achievable.
Having ended the first round on a high, by convincingly beating strugglers Proline 4-0 on Tuesday, Mike Mutebi will be aware that the 15 games of the second stanza of the season will present a great opportunity for his side to catch rivals Vipers SC, who are four points clear at the top. KCCA are in close second.
The Kasasiro Boys' powerful conclusion of the first round will have bolstered their belief that they can retain the very title they won last season.
Against Proline, KCCA, playing as the visitors at StarTimes Stadium, Lugogo, found the breakthrough at the death of the opening half through teenager Sam Ssenyonjo.
Nicholas Kasozi opened his KCCA and Premier League goal account with a fierce header from a corner swept in by Gift Ali after the interval to improve the lead.
This was a game that had been rescheduled because both teams were involved in continental engagements. They were both knocked out of the CAF Confederation Cup, before switching their attentions back to the league.
While Proline have been sucked in the struggles of the bottom half of the table, KCCA have been playing catch-up in the opposite end of the log. The latter have given a good account of themselves, and when Allan Okello scored twice in the last 12 minutes against Proline to all but seal the three points, it became clearer just how much focus Mutebi is demanding from his players.
The tactician was delighted to introduce Julius Poloto late in the game on his return from a lengthy injury, and Mutebi was all praises for the youngster, saying that his return was timely.
Poloto's introduction was met with a standing ovation from the KCCA faithful, and his contribution once he got on the pitch offered the visitors chances to extend their lead.
Proline's struggles continue to linger in the relegation zone, with the Lugogo-based side anchoring the table. They are bottom on a measly nine points. In sharp contrast, KCCA are on 32 points and hot-on-the-heels of the Venoms (36 points).
REACTION: What the coaches said
"It will reach a time when the whole team of eleven players will be from the KCCA academy. Poloto is a fan's darling. He is a KCCA boy groomed here and he knows what to do and I groom these young stars to be darling of fans," said Mutebi after the game.
Despite the result, Mutebi maintained that his team are operating at 45%.
"We managed to get a good result because we played a young and organised team and they missed two clear-cut chances," said Mutebi.
Baker Mboowa took charge of Proline after Matia Lule was given a three-week leave.
Proline boss Mujib Kasule attributed their loss to mistakes on the pitch. The outfit was weeks ago docked nine points when they failed to honour their match against SC Villa.
"When you are playing a team like KCCA FC, and you make one mistake, they will punish you," he said, adding that despite the setback, they are still giving relegation survival their best shot.