When KCCA FC duo Brian Aheebwa and Sam Ssenyonjo both scored hat tricks to lead the team to an 8-0 obliteration of Onduparaka, all concerned parties at Lugogo, be it the board, players or fans could not help but be excited, if not at the ruthlessness of their strike force then the sheer volume of chances created.
Manager Mike Mutebi even went as far as declaring his unhappiness with the scoreline, boasting that his men could have won by more if only they’d been more clinical.
How Onduparaka felt about such a scathing statement after the most embarrassing result in their Premier League history is a story for another day. One thing I am sure of though, is that the Arua club must be quietly amused by what has happened to Mike Mutebi and his team since then.
The manner of the Caterpillars’ mauling had many analysts warning all the other teams about KCCA’s intent regarding retaining the league title they relinquished to Vipers SC last year, amidst the contentious circumstances of the Covid-19 which forced the season to end early.
Instead, only one word can describe the atmosphere at Lugogo right now; crisis. By the time the league broke off to accommodate the national team’s participation at the CHAN tournament in Cameroon, KCCA had been knocked out of the Confederations Cup after failing to overturn a 2-0 result awarded to Rwanda’s AS Kigali.
The losing streak continued with a 2-1 deficit to BUL in Jinja, which was swiftly followed by reports of Mutebi’s impending dismissal. From the peak of the Onduparaka demolition, it was a sharp descent into the lowest trough of Mutebi’s reign as manager since his arrival as Abdallah Mubiru’s successor in 2016.
Yesterday, reports emerged alleging that Mike Mutebi had been involved in a heated bust-up with his own technical team.
Gone is the sunny optimism at the start of the season. Far from establishing dominance at the top of the table, KCCA has stuttered their way into a tornado which has led them to ninth place, seven behind the early leader’s Police FC. How has such a downturn in fortunes happened so quickly though? And what are it’s potential outcomes regarding who is at the helm?
The answer to the second question is impossible to determine right now. Despite the reports of discontent involving the manager, it is important to remember that he is the club’s most successful manager of the modern era and will therefore deserve to be granted time to turn this around.
Mike Mutebi’s once-dominant KCCA FC is struggling and everything seems to be in a total mess
Explaining KCCA’s “sudden” crisis is far more straightforward. For starters, this is a club that had so much flux in the transfer window. The club brought in up to ten new men; Stefano Loro Mazengo, Bright Anukani, Samson Kigozi, Andrew Kawooya, Charles Lwanga, Ashraf Mugume, Moses Kalanzi, Denis Iguma, Dominic Ayella and Brian Aheebwa.
Out went ten players such as the two Mutyabas, Muzamir and Mike, Jackson Nunda, Simon Serunkuma, Jamil Malyamungu, Saddam Juma, Nicholas Kasozi, Erisa Sekisambu, Tom Ikara and Eric Senjobe.
Playmaker Allan Okello had earlier last year signed for Algerian club Paradou and is yet to be effectively replaced. The Montreal Impact bound Mustafa Kizza stayed around until October, but eventually had to fly to Canada to join his new team.
It is only natural that after so much activity, stability at the club should be compromised, which has translated to some sub-par performances as the new players acclimatise to their new surroundings.
While some like Aheebwa, have hit the ground running, others like Anukani, Balinya and Mazengo have struggled to star immediately. They have not been helped by the stop-start nature of this year’s league season, which they can argue has denied them the opportunity to gain any consistent rhythm.
The problem is that at clubs like KCCA FC, there is very little patience and time for such a process to take place. This particular circumstance is made worse by the fact that the club ended last season trophyless, which means the pressure to win immediately is more intense than normal.
The confrontational and abrasive management style of Mutebi, previously easy to ignore due to the fact that it is impossible to criticise a man racking up the wins has been brought into focus by the club’s struggles this season and far from resolving them, has only served to escalate them.
According to reliable reports, a rift has developed between him and his assistants who accuse him of roundly ignoring their contributions hence costing the team points. Viewed in light of all that’s happened at the club so far this season, it is an impertinent moment to note that when it rains, it pours.
It has been oft-repeated that luck is a paramount quantity in sport and this year’s KCCA FC has had spades of bad luck. From the injury struggles of influential midfield anchorman Gift Ali to the unprecedented Coronavirus outbreak that depleted the team right before the first leg of the AS Kigali tie.
Mutebi and co would be within their rights to justify this “crisis” by pointing out how much misfortune they’ve suffered. Whether that is enough to let him off the hook is open to the judgement and conviction of time but with a crucial fixture against historical arch-rivals Express FC slated for kick-off later today, it would be in his favour to find urgent solutions to the malaise at Lugogo.
Author: Timothy Ainebyoona
Timothy is a dynamic analyst passionate about news and all things sport.