How a NEC Reject Helped Villa End Title Drought

Brady Jeans Wokorach joined SC Villa after ending stay at NEC FC. (Courtesy photos)

There’s an illustrious tale in the Bible – ‘The rejected stone becomes a cornerstone’ in Psalm 118:22.

The allegory aligns with Uganda Premier League (UPL) winning goalkeeper, Braddy Jeans Wokorach, whose future wasn’t so certain towards the start of the 2023/24 season, as he was shockingly laid off by a club he had helped gain promotion to the top flight the previous season.

Wokorach had undoubtedly been NEC’s best goalkeeper in the 2022/23 Big League season as they earned top flight status for their very first time ever.

When the newly promoted UPL side assembled a new technical team headed by Hussein Mbalangu, part of the rebuilding process required Wokorach to leave as he just wasn’t part of the plans for the Die Hards’ new season.

For NEC, the goalkeeper had kept nine clean-sheets in 18 games, accounting for ten wins, five draws and only three loses, conceding just eleven times in the process.

Such commendable numbers landed the goalkeeper a good deal at SC Villa after his unceremonious departure from NEC.

At Villa, Wokorach was out of the picture for a lengthy time, regarded as a back up figure to both Norman Angufindru and Meddie Kibirige who are the more experienced goalkeepers at the club.

“Joining Villa, I knew the competition at stake, I knew how high the levels I’d stepped into. I trust my qualities and all my abilities, but looking at it realistically, I knew I wouldn’t walk straight into the first team,” Wokorach admitted before adding;

“The players here (at Villa) are fantastic. In my (goalkeeping) position, my brothers Norman and Meddie were all doing well before me, unfortunately, Norman got injured, then Meddie stepped in, and when I was called into action, I was just ready for the moment, I was prepared enough.”

“In our (goalkeeping) department, we’ve always supported each other, we were continuously learning from one another, and each one of us had the other’s back.”

“When Norman was playing, we all supported him, then Meddie came in, and we were fully behind him. When my chance came, they all had my back, that’s the kind of love and support system we built as a team, we needed that to be victorious.”

“Even when I wasn’t considered to play at the start, I was confident that the coaches knew exactly what they were doing. I just kept working hard, as I patiently waited for my moment, until it came and I never looked back. Above all, the coaches believed in me, and that gave me so much confidence to deliver.”

FINALLY: Wokorach’s Chance Comes, He Grabs It With Both Hands

Wokorach had a perfect start to his league life with Villa – registering a debut win and a clean-sheet in the famous city derby against arch rivals Express.

He conceded no goal as the Jogoos defeated the Red Eagles 1-0 at Wankulukuku, a result that at the time only seemed so much like just another satisfying derby win, as it took Villa to 4th place with 33 points. Title talk? Not so realistic yet, only hopeful.

The shot-stopper retained his starting position in goal again, and guarded the posts very well, saving a penalty and going on to win the Man Of The Match accolade as 10-man Villa picked up a very important 1-0 win in Jinja, against BUL at the FUFA Technical Centre, Njeru.

As narrated by Wokorach, it’s that victory against BUL that boosted his confidence the most, the win lifted the Jogoos who had dropped to 6th back to 4th with 36 points, seven behind then table leaders Kitara.

Against another top league contender, then defending Champions Vipers, the now more reassured goalkeeper stood tall and kept another clean-sheet – He conceded no goal as the Jogoos held the Venoms to a goalless draw at Wankulukuku.

Wokorach made sure that Gaddafi didn’t score any goal against Villa as the Jogoos picked up another 1-0 win on the road, against the Soldier Boys in Jinja.

To register his fifth clean-sheet of the season, the custodian conceded no goal as Villa picked up a massive 2-0 win away against UPDF, sending the Jogoos to the top of the table.

On the final day of the season, Wokorach was Villa’s best man to stand in goal against his former paymasters NEC, on a day that would see Villa win their first title in 20 years by winning that particular game.

The goalkeeper understood the assignment very well – he conceded no goal as Villa scored two late goals to emerge 2-0 winners over NEC, clinching the 2023/24 UPL title, a record extending 17th league trophy for the most successful club in Ugandan club history.

Wokorach emphasizes that Villa winning the league trophy after a whole two decades drought was a collective team effort that everyone attached to the club contributed to in more ways than one.

“I have to commend all my teammates for their unmatched character and team work, the coaching staff for their dedication, plus the management’s full support to the team, not forgetting the fans for their endless support – that always lifted our spirits,” Wokorach stated.

Wokorach Is Joint 5th Best Goalkeeper In The League, The Stats Say So…

Judging by the end of the 2023/24 UPL season’s statistics, particularly the clean-sheets each goalkeeper kept, Wokorach, who only started playing almost towards the end of the season ranks amongst the best ten goalkeepers of the season.

The best of them all, Tom Ikara kept 12 clean-sheets for BUL, while Hannington Ssebwalunyo came second, managing eleven clean-sheets for Maroons.

Kitara’s Chrispus Kusiima and Wakiso Giants’ Bashir Ssekagya both tied on eight clean-sheets, followed by Villa’s Norman Angufindru, URA’s Dennis Otim and Vipers’ Jack Komakech who all managed seven.

Wokorach kept six clean-sheets, just one less than his his counterpart Angufindru, same as Mbarara City’s Ronald Mutebi and NEC’s Samson Kirya.

Wokorach started in goal for each one of the last 12 league games for Villa, losing just once, to KCCA (2-0) at Namboole, also amassing eight wins and three draws in the process.

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