Sadiq Ssempigi has named midfielder Solomon Okwalinga Mbarara City’s permanent captain replacing Hillary Mukundane who has left the club.
Okwalinga becomes only the second captain of the Ankole Lions in the StarTimes Uganda Premier League with Mukundane holding the armband in each of their previous three top flight campaigns.
The midfielder’s appointment comes exactly on the same day Mukundane led the club out for the first time in the Uganda Premier League ironically against Vipers – the latter’s reported next destination.
Okwalinga, has been a popular choice for captain, and it is reported that Ssempigi consulted his players before informing the squad of his decision on Wednesday morning.
Ssempigi has also selected a leadership group that includes Swalik Bebe Ssemujju, who retains his role as assistant captain together with Pistis Barenge and Martin Elungat who replaces Steven Othieno as third assistant captain.
Speaking after his appointment, Okwalinga said: “What I can only say is you read Romans 13:1 – Leadership comes from God.”
“I think coach trusts me and sees something in that no one sees that’s why I was given the arm-band.”
“We are all leaders in our team. We shall all work hand in hand with everyone to see that we have a better second round. The task is not only for me alone but for the whole team.”
Okwalinga recently signed a three-year contract extension until 2024, at the end of which will make him the longest serving player at Mbarara overtaking Mukundane’s five-year spell at the club.
He joined the Ankole Lions after they gained promotion to the top flight in the 2017/28 season from Synergy FC. He briefly left the club for a year playing for Onduparaka and KCCA but returned in June 2019.
Mbarara is still in search of securing survival and sit in 12th position, four points above the relegation places, but could start the second round only a point away from the red zone should Bright Stars and Busoga United win their respective games in hand against URA FC.
The Ankole Lions start their second round against Bright Stars in what promises to be a relegation six pointer.