Kampala. The only university side in the StarTimes Uganda Premier League (SUPL) kicked off their debut season at the table of men with the narrowest of defeats at champions Vipers on Friday.
For Vipers and their new Mexican coach Javier Martinez Espinoza, it was a sigh of relief when substitute Davis Kasirye poked home the winner, at the death, in the 1-0 victory at their new St Mary’s astroturf.
It was defeat for Ndejje and coach Raymond Komakech but on reflection, it never felt much as such.
“I’m very proud of the boys because they executed our plan,” said coach Komakech, “Losing 1-0 to defending champions in added time was a plus for us.
“Our main goal is avoid relegation and going by the players’ mentality that I saw, we can achieve that over the course of the season.”
That is how much their effort meant to them. It went as far as emphasising their expectations in their debut season.
Actually, according Ndejje captain Ronald Odokonyero, they are experiencing a mixture of both anxiety and excitement, and for them; they just have to simply enjoy the ride.
“It’s a bit of anxiety but we also feel and understand that we have a great opportunity here,” said Odokonyero, who is waiting to graduate with a degree in Information Technology. “Without doubt our ultimate target is to stay in the league. We shall try to have fun and enjoy the experience but also do our best to push for a top eight finish.
“At our first time of asking, that’s what we can go for, really, but I can assure you we will shock some people. We are all excited about this.”
Ndejje have not made much noise in the transfer market, which should concern them if they are to really stay up.
Apart from forward Dicken Kilama, a recruit from Football for Good Academy (FFG), and two loanees from Vipers in Eric Kiowa and Mujahid Baden, they will heavily rely on the team that helped them get promoted.
On top of that, they allowed Alfred Onek and Julius Debbo to leave for Bright Stars and Jinja SS Kirinya respectively.
But skipper Odokonyero looks at it differently, nay positively.
“I think it will help us that majority of us have stayed,” he said, “Most of us have been together since the first year, so we understand each other, the chemistry is really good.
“So we will not be struggling with too many things to learn off each other.
“We have added a few new faces but let’s see how the first round ends, maybe the coach will add more experienced ones.”
Francis Onekalit, Noel Nasasira, Edward Kabona and Bernard Katetemera are the other names coach Komakech will rely on to achieve the university’s ambitions of staying up.
And if the students thought their promotion was monumental, staying up will need surely call for new superlatives.