Invincible Arua Hill have been promoted to the Uganda Premier League for the first time in club’s history.
They had to wait until today after drawing with Gaddafi FC last Wednesday in Jinja for the official confirmation of their promotion after sixth time of petitioning.
The Leopards’ journey to the top flight level was officially sanctioned after beating Paidha Blacks Angels 4-0 in the final game of the regular season at the Barifa Stadium on Sunday afternoon, with three of the four goals coming in the first half.
Their triumph over the West Nile counterpart is the eighth, in 14 games. Hussein Mbalangu and Co drew six times in the entire season.
Paidha arrived late, a few minutes after the designated kickoff time looking depleted with only four legs on the bench, and it was all clear they were headed for massive defeat, as they were conditioned to no warm up due limited time.
Gadaffi Gadinho opened the scores just seven minutes into the game, as Rashid Kawawa doubled the lead 23 minutes later, meanwhile Caesar Okhuti extended the Leopards’ lead before half time, with Kawawa completing his brace against opponents he silenced in the reverse fixture to formally help seal Arua Hill a place in the top league of Ugandan football.
The Leopards were without their first choice goalkeeper Richard Anyama, and had Alfred Leku neither on bench nor the starting XI but again made other changes that saw Rashid Agau sidelined to the bench for Rashid Kawawa to take over, with Allan Mugalu also returning to the starting place.
Caesar Okhuti had the first chance in the first minute but after delay in making decision, Paidha organized quickly and caused defense jam that the skipper couldn’t beat.
Arua Hill were all out, with right fullback Rashid Yakin keeping the lines high, he made the second attempt to score in the second minute before Paidha defense diverted his effort off the target.
In the third minute, Paidha’s first chance came through Julius Choka whose strike was well dealt with by Franco Oringa. Shortly afterwards, Denise Oyirwoth powered a strike that Oringa again saved to ensure the scores remain leveled.
Arua Hill’s break through came in the 7th minute through Gadaffi Gadinho who had just returned after missing the previous game due suspension following accumulated Yellow card. The midfielder powered a strike from a Yakin’s inswing past Janathan Oyirwoth to give the hosts the steering.
Three minutes later Okhuti was denied chance to get his fifth goal of the season when his goal was flagged offside. Paidha made efforts to pullback one in the 14th minutes but Eric Otingcwiny’s strike went wide.
Okhuti asked another question with a powerful strike in the 17th minute but Oyirwoth answered with a tip off. Gadinho received Yellow card in the 28th minute, two minutes later, Kawawa doubled the lead to give the Leopards comfortable feel.
OKhuti finally succeeded to get on score sheet in the 35th minute with a finish off Kawooya assist. The first half ended with Arua Hill leading with a comfortable margin.
Mike Kawooya made the first attempt but off goal as the second half commenced. Paidha was forced to bring on assistant goalkeeper Joshua Othuba after Oyirwoth incurred injury.
Kawawa killed the game when he completed his brace as he put the game beyond the visitor’s reach in 58th minute. He struck with his left foot a flying ball from goalie’s palm.
Mbalangu introduced fresh legs, with Brian Ade, Rajab Kakooza and Samari Ajobe coming in for Baden Mujahid, Allan Mugalu and Paddy Muhumuza meanwhile, Rashid Agau was brought in later for Okhuti.
Ade scored a volley in the 67th minute but the officials nullified it for what they considered as offside. The striker was also denied by the pole minutes later before his 83rd minute half volley was palmed off by busy Othuba.
The Leopards four goals were too enough to get the needed results to clinch the promotion to Ugandan top flight football, the 2021/22 StarTimes Uganda Premier League.
Arua Hill head coach Hussein Mbalangu
“I am happy because we’ve fulfilled our promise of qualifying directly.
“The season has been been hard as you know Big League. The Big League has a way of influencing play style especially if you want to get results.
“But we tried to cope up with the style the league demands, and tried to win and qualify directly without going through play-offs.
“It also has not been bad because we prepared very well, we prepared for five months. We went into the season when we were okay, we tested every player that’s why amidst injuries and cards we had people who could step in.
“We were realistically qualified but we needed to finish our games, that’s why even if we scored one, we just needed a win and to keep our unbeaten run both at home and the entire league so we didn’t have any pressure coming into this game.
“Football sometimes is not like that, not about many goals. We didn’t mind a lot about goals. We came for this game when we are three points ahead. We looked at what the best is. The best is the points not the goals. That’s why we collected our points earlier.
Arua Hill SC Starting XI: Oringa, Yakin, Dan, Muhamed, Kawooya, Muhumuza, Baden, Gadinho, Okhuti, Mugalu, Kawawa
Sub: Mulindwa, Sabir, Kakooza, Ajobe, Agau, Ade, Atandu
Paidha Black Angels: Oyirwoth. J, Odagiu, Sabir, Okoth, Jakisa, Bithum, Dickson Oyirwoth, Desmond Oyirwoth, Eric Otingcwiny, Nsubuga, Choka
Sub: Othuba, Aweko