UGANDA PREMIER LEAGUE
JINJA — Jinja City will maintain all three clubs in the topflight after BUL and Busoga United connived to handcuff and dump Police into the Fufa Big League cell for next season.
The relegation of Police was confirmed when all other results of the second-last matchday of the season went against their survival permutations. Soltilo Bright Stars ran away 3-1 winners away to Ondupara in Arua to ensure that they were out of reach of any Police cuffs dangled their way.
Record champions SC Villa had done the same on Friday in a 2-1 comeback win over Arua Hill, to leave Busoga United the only team the Cops could think of harassing,
It wasn’t to be as the Jinja-based side did their own job 3-2 against URA in Bombo to leave the Cops at their own mercy.
BUL were particularly in no mood for sentiments in their 5-2 thumping win as they rudely dragged the helpless Cops by the collar inside the MTN Philip Omondi Stadium in Lugogo in a manner that would leave the Military Police envious.
Needing a win with an eye on several other events, particular in Bombo were URA were hosting Busoga United, Police were pegged back early when in-form striker Simon Peter Oketch struck home in the 15th minute, almost, almost at the same time Anwar Ntege was turning in a penalty for Busoga.
If that was a dire alert that Police would not have to rely on URA for favours, the Cops took it to their muscles and fought to equalise 20 minutes later courtesy of Frank Kalanda. The glimmer of hope flashed soon after when Patrick Mbowa forced Busoga into a tight spot with an equaliser on 40 minutes.
But Ibrahim Nsimbe popped up at the Cops with the ruthlessness of the Military Police handling Traffic Police on the street to ensure Police went into the break pondering if their 27-year consistency in the topflight football was really coming to an end as the entire season has been writing on the wall.
Nsimbe stretched the scores in the 74th minute when Martin Aprem made if 4-1. What flashed for Police was not their defeat but the fact that Busoga had again connived to retake the lead from URA at the same time the Cops were conceding.
Martin Ssekulima’s goal would prove worth a season’s ticket after Dickson Nuwamanya had cancelled out Cromwell Rwomthomio’s 50th minute lead for URA.
Substitute Owen Mukisa then effectively ended any last dregs of hope Police still had after Kalanda’s second of the afternoon had flattered the Cops.
Down and out
The result meant Police join Tooro United and Mbarara City in the Fufa Big League next season and that Jinja City will avoids a tense final day match when Busoga United host Gaddafi at Kakindu Stadium.
Police, who last month sacked head coach Abdallah Mubiru and replaced him with his assistant John Luyinda in acting position, won their first and only league title in 2005 under Asuman Lubowa.
At the time Tonny Mawejje was a dynamite in the midfield of the Cops team but 17 years later, Mawejje had no more sinewy muscles and even as assistant coach-player to Luyinda, he could do little to save the 2006 Cecafa Cup winners.
Elsewhere, Gaddafi beat KCCA 1-0 at the Barracks to move up to ninth in the 16-team league table in their maiden season. But the honours for the best debutants will go with Arua Hill who, despite a 2-1 defeat away to SC Villa at Fufa Technical Centre in Njeru, stay fifth on 49 points, level with BUL with one game to play for all.
The relegation of Police ends a tense season in which as many as 10 teams have been battling for their topflight lives almost the entire season. The relegation dogfight that sucked in UPDF, Gaddafi, Onduparaka, Soltilo Bright Stars, Busoga, SC Villa, and Onduparaka was lessened with the relegation of Mbarara City last week after Tooro had bowed out earlier.