- Soccer. Third from bottom but on the same 19 points as Proline and Masavu below them, Express can stay up if they garner at least 15 points from the remaining eight matches, in which they also face fellow relegation battlers Masavu, UPDF and Mbarara.
- They also face KCCA, Vipers and URA.
When news first came through over two weeks ago that celebrated coach George ‘Best’ Nsimbe was joining relegation-threatened Express, many feared for Shafiq Bisaso’s job.
The Red Eagles had just lost 4-3 to Police at Namboole in one of the most thrilling games of the season, leaving them languishing in the relegation zone.
Club CEO, Hamza Jjunju, was quick to allay fears, insisting that although Nsimbe would also help with training sessions, he was coming to the club as a technical director, and that Bisaso’s job with the struggling six-time national champions was safe. “Actually, he (Bisaso) was part of the negotiations that brought Nsimbe and we hope their partnership brings success to the club,” said Jjunju.
Bisaso, Nsimbe relationship
Bisaso, 38, sees no problem working with someone he calls friend. “It’s me who asked for him (Nsimbe),” said the young coach, “As a team we want many heads. We are like the Israelites in Egypt but we don’t want to wait 40 years.
“We sat with the club bosses and agreed that we can do with more heads. So they asked me who I would love to work with. “First I said Matia Lule because he is also well qualified, and we are close friends and even share rooms when on coaching courses.
“But he is engaged with the U20 team and Uganda Cranes (assistant). So the only other available option fitting the bill was Nsimbe.”
Bisaso added: “Nsimbe agreed that we can work together. But we have a problem in our country. Some people think you cannot work with someone else.
“See, it is happening at Vipers (technical director Eddy Butindo with coach Miguel da Costa), so why can’t it happen at Express?”
Bisaso was alluding to talk in the aftermath of Express thrashing Soana 4-0, the first match since Nsimbe’s appointment, that the latter was responsible for that victory. Bisaso looks at Nsimbe as “my elder.” The two have also been roommates while on some coaching courses. Nsimbe, Butindo and Mike Mutebi are the coaches he looks up to locally while Sir Alex Ferguson and Pep Guardiola cut it for him on the global scene.
“I always look out for someone I can learn from. While I was at Proline and George at KCCA, he always gave me advice.”
Bisaso believes shortfalls in finances, talent, attitude of players, plus poor administration could have influenced Express’ poor first round, although he believes “administration is a big problem everywhere.”
“Yes the welfare is not the best but there is something. Players get Shs20,000 per day as allowance after meals. So yes, first round we had all these issues but now we are better.”
Express do not have assets to earn them money, only counting on meagre gate collections, executives and well-wishers.
Just recently, a fundraising drive dubbed ‘Save Express’ raised slightly over Shs30m in cash and pledges to help in the operations of the club.
Race to survival
Now Bisaso wants to build onto that good will on the pitch, with eight matches to avoid the drop.
Currently third from bottom but on the same 19 points as Proline and Masavu below them, Express can stay up if they garner at least 15 points from the remaining eight matches, in which they also face fellow relegation battlers Masavu, UPDF and Mbarara, as well as KCCA, Vipers and URA.
“We have the potential, strategy and players to do it,” insisted Bisaso, “Scoring has been the problem. That is now addressed. Now we need to continue working to improve on our strong points, and that is scoring. We have played some of the best football in the second round, and now it is not just one player scoring; the team is scoring goals, 10 in the last six (now seven) games (seven of them coming in the last three matches).
Some of the players brought in to address that, in the wake of Daniel Sserunkuma, scorer of six of Express’ eight first round goals, include youngster Tonny Kyamera, experienced defender Ayub Kisalita, and Jamil Zimula among others.
Express are seventh on the second round log having won two, drawn as many and lost three for eight points. Kirinya top the second round table with 19 points having won six of their eight matches.
A defender in his playing days, the soft-spoken Bisaso started out at Kasawo SS before turning out for Umeme, Scoul, Morogoro, Vijana, Taifa Ja Gombe (TZ), Volcano de Moroni (Comoros), and later retiring at Victors.
The Caf A coaching license holder has a course lined up in Sweden at the end of the season, where he will learn how clubs prepare for new campaigns. “I have the passion,” said Bisaso, “But most importantly, I want to change people’s lives through coaching and donating; this really makes me happy.”
Bisaso knows their poor form over the season so far has affected fans and well-wishers, but calls them upon not to abandon the club.
“Our fans and friends should come and support us. This is when we need them most. Sometimes we fail technically, sometimes pressure filters in. But there are 11 clubs still in this relegation fight and we shall be okay.”
Name: Shafiq Bisaso
2000-2004: Morogoro, Vijana, Taiffa Ja Gombe (TZ), Volcano de Moroni (Comoros)
2007-2008: Nakivubo Boys
2009-2011: Fire Masters
2015-2016: SC Villa
2012 to date: Express
Masaza Cup titles: With Gomba in 2009 and 2014, and Ssingo in 2015
Express’ LAST fixtures
Wed, April 11: Express vs. Mbarara
Tue, April 17: Express vs. UPDF
Sat, April 28: Maroons vs. Express
Tue, May 1: Express vs. KCCA
Sat, May 5: URA vs. Express
Fri, May 11: Express vs. SC Villa
Sat, May 19: Vipers SC vs. Express