By Salmah Namwanje
After months of begging, refurbishing and perhaps praying, Paidha Black Angles is finally set to host its first Startimes Uganda Premier League game at the Bar Okoro stadium in Paidha after the FUFA executive Committee gave them the green light last week.
The first kick at their beloved fortress will be against Nyamityobora on Thursday in a relegation battle, that the home fans are confident they will win.
Business in some parts of the West Nile district almost came to a stand still as thousands flocked the stadium to watch their darling stars train for the final time ahead of today’s duel.
The degree of euphoria in Paidha on the eve of the match left many imagining what the town will be like on the match day.
The beautiful game brought these people together as they worked hand in hand in painting and fixing the unfinished sections of the stadium stands. The passion was enviable.
The playing turf isn’t the best, but the federation deemed it fit to host a game in the country’s top tier, and this all that the home fans will care about.
It is what they have been waiting for, to rally behind their boys in their own yard. After watching their team train, the supporters stayed to rehearse the songs and chants they will sing tomorrow, it promises to be an atmosphere like no other.
Paidha Black Angels has been hosting games a distant over 100 km in Arua at Onduparaka’s Green Light Stadium, a facility they used to pay in the region of 800,000 to 1.2 million Uganda shillings to access, (depending on the size of the opponent as decided by the landlords), yet they would barely recover one million Uganda shillings from the gate collections. (Not to mention the money spent on transporting the team and officials)
For one to travel from Paidha to Arua and back, they needed close to 45,000 Uganda shillings. And for a region where most are unemployed, only a handful could fund these trips hence the empty stands most of the times.
Nonetheless, to their credit, they never missed a single game at home or away of all the 19 played so far. Many from this side including fans, players and coaches believe this was partly responsible for their struggles in the first round, that left them rock bottom of the pile with just nine points and only one win and 11 losses.
Now that they are back where they feel safe, the psych is up and everyone seems confident that Thursday’s game can only have one ending, a win for the Blacks.
While speaking to Nile Post’s Salmah Namwanje, The Blacks’ head coach Charles Senyange revealed how he has never seen such passionate football fans in Uganda and how important Thursday’s game is to their survival quest.
“Playing in Arua has been affecting us greatly. Playing home comes with a great advantage than playing away all the time. It has been affecting us in two ways, Financially and the fans have not been travelling for our games. Every game has been like an away game. But now the advantage is 90% on our side because we have the 12th player. But now we have to use every thing near us to win the game tomorrow, the players are mentally prepared’
They face a wounded side, Nyamityobora, with a new technical team led by, Alex Isabirye Musongola who replaced Asaph Mwebaze. The ‘Abanyakabale’ too are trying to avoid the unsparing sword, and are aware that it is against teams like Paidha that they should get the points to keep them afloat.
In the other games tomorrow, Police FC will take on log leaders KCCA FC live on Sanyuka Television, URA FC hosts Kirinya Jinja SS, while George Semwogerere’s express FC hosts Maroons.
Today, Pius Wangi netted his fourth goal in three games as Sports club villa drew one all with BUL FC, Onduparaka edged Mbarara City 2-1 to end their unbeaten run at the Kakyeka Stadium while Tooro United was stunned 4-3 by new comers Ndejje University FC at the Arena of Visions.