The 2019 Pepsi University football league (UFL) looks to be more exciting even before the kickoff after organisers confirming that the league has expanded from 16 to 19. Muni University, Kabale University and International University of East Africa (IUEA) are the new comers joining Makerere University that returns from suspension to give the Pepsi-sponsored league a national coverage. Vincent Kisenyi, the chairman local organising committee explained that the league will have a preliminary knockout round between the new comers and the relegated sides from last year’s edition. IUEA gets a bye into the group stage. Nkumba University faces Kabale, Kampala International University (KIU) face Makerere University a Gulu faces Arua-based Muni University. Nkumba, Gulu and KIU were relegated last term while Mbarara University was expelled after failure to honour fixtures. “The Pepsi University Football League returns with the competition expanding from 16 teams last season to 19 teams this season. With the eighth season knocking, the league has grown tremendously since its inaugural season in 2012 with just six universities,” noted Kisenyi, also the Uganda Christian university (UCU) Sports tutor. Kisenyi said that the expansion is in line with the UFL vision of providing all university students in the country a platform to showcase and develop their skills. “We have 26 members in the Association of Uganda University Sports; all of whom have students with great football talents. It is great to welcome Kabale, IUEA, Muni and MUK to this season’s competition,” he added. According to Anthony Tumwesigye, the league manager, teams will play a two-legged knockout tie at the preliminary level –with the aggregate winner of each tie progressing to the group stage. Peninah Kabenge, the President of the Association of Uganda University Sports (AUUS) welcomed the development, saying that it will help to strengthen the competition. “As AUUS, we are excited about the growth of the competition and we thank Red Rhino and league sponsors Pepsi and Nile Special for their support that has made this possible. The new format involving teams facing relegation will make the league even more competitive and exciting,” Kabenge said during the 2019 season launch on Wednesday at Katikati restaurant, Lugogo. Elizabeth Mutamuliza, the Pepsi Brand Manager said that the UFL sponsorship is a perfect fit for Pepsi given the brand’s strong association with football. “As Pepsi, we are thrilled to be associated with the University Football League which is arguably Ugandan’s most exciting football competition. Pepsi has a long and strong association with football around the world and we are excited to be supporting this local competition that is helping develop the game at the grassroots by encouraging football talents to join university and also enabling football talents in universities to showcase their skills,” she said. The preliminary knockout stage of the competition is scheduled to run between 3rd and 10th February, 2019 and will immediately be followed by the group stage. Kyambogo University are the defending champions after clinching their maiden title last year following their 3-2 win over Kampala University (KU) in penalties after a 2-2 normal time draw in the final played at Namboole stadium.