SPORTS. Onduparaka football club has undoubtedly been a force to reckon with since their introduction to the top football league in Uganda.

Credited for bringing fans back to the local game, the caterpillars built a fortress at their green light stadium so much strong that giants Vipers, KCCA, Villa et all fell prey at the hands of the green army in their maiden season.

Young inexperienced striker Shaban Mohammed led the onslaught then and indeed any travel to Arua became a nightmare for any opponent. ‘Paruku’ (can’t survive) became a popular name amongst the fans implying no opponent would survive the humiliation at the Green Light.

So many changes in management, player switches and fan participation and ambitions of the club have since occurred but is the 2019 goalscoring record the worst of them all?

Technical director speaks out

Veteran tactician and technical director Mr. Leo Adraa says the club failed to get players in crucial positions during the transfer period which advice was not heeded.

“In football there is no telling lies, one time I proposed that we get a striker, number eight and a third goalkeeper, I think we failed to get those three people for those positions, especially somebody to play the central role who could help Ceasor (Okhuti) in case he doesn’t pick up, so it’s no surprise if we are failing to convert chances” a rather frustrated Adraa said after being held by URA FC on Tuesday.

“What we have right now are young strikers who with time will be very good but what we have right now are young players who can’t decide now in this situation let us play this kind of football, let us not be deceived” He continued.

Onduparaka technical bench 14 02 19The Onduparaka technical bench has work to do. PHOTO BY RIMILIAH AMANDU

Adraa, however, said the lack of transfer activity was possibly down to lack of sponsorship during the first round of the 2018/19 season. Betting giants Betway, the clubs hitherto biggest sponsors pulled out of their deal and the club carried their own financial burdens as the search for new partners continued.

However, at the turn of the year, the club added former cranes goalkeeper Sadiq Wassa and another Sadiq Sempiji, both holders of CAF B coaching licenses to their ranks. Their impact on the technical team needs more time although the defense has largely remained compact.

The URA game had captain Rashid Toha putting up a man-of-the-match performance, incidentally, he has scored the only 2019 goal for the club, an equalizer during the one all away draw at Bright stars.

Indeed apart from the 3-0 humiliation by Vipers SC, the team has only conceded twice, Bright stars sensation Nelson Senkatuka and another, a penalty against KCCA at Lugogo.

Bus project stalls over poor results

A rather popular fans fundraising venture to buy a Bus for the club is now at stake due to the string of poor results.

The drive, a sole initiative of the fans was targeting 10,000 fans to contribute 10,000 shillings each and an ultimate 100 million shillings for the project.

“Of course you know with fans this thing (contribution) comes with results and when the team is not winning games they tend not to give, they mainly give out of the excitement of winning games” remarked Mr Mark Lulua, one of the club’s media officers and the main coordinator of the fundraising drive.

By press time, Lulua said 489 fans had contributed an amount of above 13 million shillings.

He says the club representation and the fans committee would meet to formulate new strategies of continuing the fundraising so as to achieve the initial targets.

Lulua appeals to fans to continue the contributions regardless of the club performance saying no club across the world can always win their games at all times.

What next?

Having secured a 300 million renewal deal with telecommunication giants MTN that runs up to June 2020, the club now has to convince their partner within this period that it is the household name that can best market their product.

The caterpillars lie 6th on the premier league table with 27 points after the URA game. Having finished 4th in the previous season, the Caterpillars will hope to improve on their current standings having spoken strongly at the start of the season to fare better than the previous seasons.

Captain Rashid Toha 14 02 19Onduparaka defence commanded by Captain Rashid Toha has largely remained Formidable. PHOTO BY RIMILIAH AMANDU

They next face a daunting task against 4th placed Mbarara city away at Kakyeka stadium followed by vipers, maroons, Nyamyitoobora, and Villa.

In the meantime, apart from the striking challenges, the club remains intact, Coach Simeon Masaba and his technical team have the massive support of the fans and attendance for the home games although slightly lower is still remarkable.

Whether or not the club can turn around fortunes with its current crop of strikers is the question but the upcoming games are critical in many aspects.