It is that time of the year again when we get to have discussions on who has been the stand-out player of the year, with keen interest taken on which players make the best eleven from the season.
Everyone has their own opinion when it comes to that, something that was cemented by how diverse the choices of sports journalists were when they were put to the task of choosing their best elevens.
Pundits including Brian Tuka, Martin Kaddu, Pisu Serugo, and Sanyuka TVs commentators Jermaine Egesa and John Vianney Nsimbe unveiled their StarTimes Uganda Premier League best elevens while speaking at Sanyuka TV’s 90th minute Twitter Spaces on Monday.
That panel agreed on only three picks which included league topscorer Cesar Manzoki, Shaban Muhamad and Milton Karisa, and disagreed on the other eight.
Vipers captain Halid Lwaliwa was the other popular choice and was selected in four out of five teams, while surprisingly there were only 19 different players selected in all teams.
Egesa was the only person not to select Lwaliwa who has played an impressive 26 out of the 30 games for his side given his previous injury troubles.
Arua Hill’s Bright Vuni and Lwaliwa’s defensive partner Livingstone Mulondo were Egesa’s picks in central defence with Geriga Atendele and KCCA’s Herbert Achai the other defenders selected while Fabien Mutombora’s nine clean sheets earned him a selection in goal.
Egesa further selected Siraje Ssentamu and Ashraf Mugume in midfield going on to select Vipers’ trio Karisa, Manzoki, Yunus Ssentamu, and Onduparaka’s Shaban Muhamad to complete his eleven.
Kaddu, however, felt that Alionzi Nafian had more stable performances in goal for URA FC, and selected UPDF’s James Begisa and Lwaliwa together with Vuni in a three-man defence, because ‘he was not convinced by any left-backs in the league’.
Kaddu also felt that Marvin Youngman gave more assurance in midfield for Bright Stars and was sold by Bobosi Byaruhanga’s long-range goals plus consistency for Vipers which he felt ‘truly warranted his player of the year award’.
Karisa who Kaddu believes is the most improved player this season, Manzoki and Shaban once again appeared in his selection with Yunus Ssentamu also getting the nod.
On the other hand, Tuka despite being disappointed with the anti-climax to the season with Vipers eventually running away to win the title 18 points ahead of KCCA, commended the effort of the players specifically Karisa, Manzoki, Ssentamu and captain Lwaliwa.
Six players from the champions were selected to his team, retaining special recognition for Nafian, Begisa, Achai and Youngman.
Vianney Nsimbe, not wanting to fix square pegs in round holes, had straightforward selections of Siraje Ssentamu and Byaruhanga in midfield, but couldn’t get over his admiration for John Revita’s composure on the ball and ability to playout from the back.
There were obvious choices of Karisa, Manzoki and Shaban but he also retains a special place for Aliro ahead of his teammate Titus Ssematimba and Yunus Ssentamu who he feels had several no shows especially on difficult grounds.
Serugo was not convinced by any of the fullbacks in the league, with his choices being Vuni, Lwaliwa and Rashid Toha as his best defensive performers with Mutombora standing heads and shoulders ahead of other goalkeepers.
For Serugo, Byaruhanga and KCCA’s Mugume’s industry in the midfield earned admiration from him with Karisa, Manzoki, Shaban and Ssentamu the obvious choices from the forwards.
Jermaine Egesa: Fabien Mutombora; Geriga Atendele, Livingston Mulondo, Bright Vuni, Herbert Achai, Siraje Sentamu; Ashraf Mugume, Milton Karisa; Caesar Manzoki, Yunus Sentamu, Shaban Muhammad
Martin Kaddu: Nafian Alionzi; James Begisa, Halid Lwaliwa, Bright Vuni; Marvin Youngman, Bobosi Byaruhanga, Moses Aliro, Simon Peter Oketch; Caesar Manzoki, Shaban Muhammad, Milton Karisa.
Brian Tuka: Nafian Alionzi; James Begisa, Livingstone Mulondo, Halid Lwaliwa, Herbert Achai; Marvin Youngman, Siraje Sentamu, Milton Karisa; Caesar Manzoki, Shaban Muhammad, Yunus Sentamu
John Vianney Nsimbe: Nafian Alionzi; Geriga Atendele, Halid Lwaliwa, John Revita, Herbert Achai; Milton Karisa, Siraje Sentamu, Bobosi Byaruhanga, Moses Aliro; Caesar Manzoki, Muhammad Shaban
Pius Serugo: Fabien Mutombora, Bright Vuni, Halid Lwaliwa, Rashid Toha, Siraje Sentamu, Bobosi Byaruhanga, Ashraf Mugume, Milton Karisa, Cesar Manzoki, Shaban Muhammad, Yunus Ssentamu