Kampala — This has largely been a decent year for Ugandan football with the Cranes sitting beautifully atop Group D in the 2017 Nations Cup qualifiers.
The Cranes are also safely through to the group stages of the 2018 Russia World Cup qualifiers after emphatically dismissing Togo.
And as you read this, Micho Sredojevic’s local-based -players are looking to their third successive Chan due in Rwanda January/February with relish.
Domestically, Vipers smiled again and SC Villa clinched their first silverware in six years.
It is in the Uganda Cup final (initial) in Kyamate where clouds really darkened; where Fufa were as culpable for their condescending decision to insist on a referee who was so tainted it was mindboggling to see him named.
Below, we run you through the football all highs and lows, the winners and losers of 2015.
THE HIGHS, WINNERS
Miya, Onyango illuminate
When Uspa get down voting for the Footballer of 2015, Farouk Miya and Dennis Onyango will definitely be up there. The other player that could join them is youngster Salim Jamal, whose impressive goalkeeping helped his Sudanese side, El Merreikh, reach the last four of the Caf Champions League and win the national league title.
But it is Miya and Onyango who stood out. When Miya was scoring goals the other end, Onyango was either saving a penalty this side or intimidating an opposition forward by taming his supposed shot on the chest. Miya was the engine as Vipers won the Azam Uganda Premier League (UPL) title, scoring 11 goals on course and reining in with a number of assists.
Locally, there is no match for the man in his infant 20s. Little wonder the most consistent player domestically was named Footballer of the Year at the Fufa Awards. Onyango is arguably the only player that will give Miya a run for his money as the year’s top gun.
Possibly the most consistent performer in a Cranes shirt in the last decade, 30-year-old Onyango is yet to concede in two Afcon and as many World Cup qualifying games, including saving a penalty away to Comoros and Togo respectively.
He followed that by saving two penalties in normal time as his Mamelodi Sundowns, where he is now the undisputed number one; beat Kaizer Chiefs 3-1 to lift the 2015 Telkom Knockout title. Miya and Onyango are undoubtedly the toast of the year.
Vipers nick it (May, 2015)
Having won their first ever league title in their decade-plus topflight history five years ago, Vipers had come agonisingly close in the previous seasons. But this time Edward Golola’s men, spurred on by architects Miya and Keziron Kizito, held their nerve to see off a battling Villa 69 to 65 points. It is in the penultimate match against direct title rivals, Villa, at Nakivubo that extinguished any hopes of the Blues going into the final game mathematically contending for the title. But goals from Deus Bukenya and Miya silenced Villa 2-0 to all but clinch it. Golola was fittingly named Coach of the Season while Miya appropriately declared league’s Most Valuable Player.
SC Villa end painful wait (June 16, 2015)
Goals by Augustine Nsumba, Abdul-Karim Kasule and a late Yeseri Waibi freekick helped SC Villa to a 3-0 victory over KCCA in June for the Blues to win the Uganda Cup – their first trophy since 2009. The final replay was moved to Namboole after the initial one aborted in Ntungamo District 10 days earlier, thanks to crowd trouble instigated by atrocious officiating from Robert Donney.
Afcon: The perfect start (June & September 2015)
World Cup: Togo disarmed (November 12 & 15, 2015)
For all four previous qualifying matches, Uganda had lost to Togo. Not just losing, but the Cranes had never scored against the West Africans. Well, until Miya made his presence felt, scoring a freekick for a 1-0 victory in Lome before burying them proper with two more at Namboole. Massa scored the other for a 3-0 victory as Uganda progressed to the group stages.
It was back to regional business as Uganda beat everyone but Kenya to win their record 14th Cecafa title in Addis Ababa. Cecafa served to complete a remarkable year for the Cranes, and prepare the home-based players for Chan.
Barca Legends and Kluivert Magic
Uganda was blessed to host former World Cup, Champions League, European and elite league winners early December when Barcelona Legends toured the country’s tourist attractions and played an exhibition match at Namboole.
The match was part of ex-Barcelona trainee Rayco Garcia’s project of establishing a soccer academy here. And if the visit was to market the country, Patrick Kluivert’s 40-yarder lob to beat Salim Jamal in goal did more than that.
Additional reporting by the Monitor