Hectic Valentine's Day For Uganda's Top League Teams
Villa fans cheering their team from outside after boycotting their previous encounter with Express.

Hectic Valentine's Day For Uganda's Top League Teams

A hectic Valentine's Day awaits Uganda's representatives in the continental club championships when they return to action on Valentines Day, Saturday 14th February 2009 for their make or break 2nd leg encounters.

By Ramathan Kasozi
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First published: February 14, 2009

A hectic Valentine's Day awaits Uganda's representatives in the continental club championships when they return to action on Valentines Day, Saturday 14th February 2009 for their make or break 2nd leg encounters.

Kampala City Council FC popularly known as 'Kasasiro boys' are trailing Mozambiquan giants Ferroviario De Maputo by 2-1 in the African Club Champions League while the Confederations cup flag bearers Victors FC 's task has risen from Mt.Elgon to Mt Everest. Victor FC must overturn their 2-0 loss at home in the 1st leg to President Robert Mugabe's boys Caps United, away in the intimidating atmosphere of Harare.

Before the two continental engagements, a local derby pitting Uganda's long time arch rivals Express FC and Sports Club Villa on Friday 13th February. The two giants lock horns in the quarter finals of the country's second most prestigious competition – Kakungulu Cup at Muteesa 11 memorial stadium in Wankulukuku. We preview for you some of the exciting soccer engagements coming in Uganda.

KCC FC against Ferroviario

"The road for De Maputo is over. We are ready to teach them a lesson in Kampala, this away goal is enough for us" Coach George 'Best' Nsimbe was quoted saying after the 1st leg in Harare drawing the confidence from Brian Omony's away crucial strike. However as the common saying goes, that action speaks louder than words, it's the precise time for Nsimbe to cement his words and walk the talk when the two come face to face again at Nakivubo War Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

Nsimbe shouldn't be blamed for such optimistic utterances as the mathematics for his boys to qualify doesn't even need a calculator, thanks to Omony's away precious goal.

The Ugandan ambassadors need just a 1-nil victory to progress on the away goal rule. And with the presence of the country's new kid on block Brian Omony, averaging a goal per game, supported by workhorse Robert Ssentongo with Jeremiah Ssebuyira doing the creativity, dismiss Nsimbe's words on your own peril.

Omony, has been in a terrific form especially after inspiring the national team, the Cranes to the recently CECAFA concluded championship. He was once again a thorn in De Maputo's rearguard as he kept the mozambiquians busy for the entire game.

However, KCC should be reminded of history in 2003 when SC Villa under Yugoslav tactician Micho Sredojevich went to Angola and beat home boys AS Aviacao 2-1 causing excitement in the Ugandans that it was a done deal only to be surprised by a 2-0 loss in front of a packed Namboole stadium in the 2nd leg.

KCC's woes lie in defense where central defender, Ausi Kaaya was starched off in the first leg and is still doubtful for the game. His injury exposed the team's back line and the end result was conceding the 2nd off a free kick from Maricio Falnt

Kaaya was drafted in the central defense to partner team captain Sam Mubiru on the eleventh hour after the abrupt abscondment of regulars Asuman Buyinza and Omar Hitmana who returned early this week. Buyinza is said to have sought greener pastures in Kenya joining former team mate Nathan Mutenza while Hitmana had defected to Vietnam for professional trials.

Goalie Benjamin Ochan remains un opposed in between the posts with Moses Muhindo and Sam Ssenoga operating on the right full back and left respectively.Mubiru and Kaaya (if declared fit) will once again be tasked to keep a keen eye at the vistors'deadly striking line spear headed by Danito Karukiye and Maricio Falt, the scorer of the winning goal.

Anthony Bongoole steps in on the right midfield for experienced Vincent Kayizzi who departed for Serbia for professional trials. The return of Rwandan all rounder Omar Hitmana has boasted the team's midfield.

The 'Kasasiro boys' warmed up for the encounter with 1-nil victory against Bugerere FC over the weekend at Ntenjeru in the local national super league , Omony once again being the savior. If KCC progresses, they are likely to face South African champions Super sport United masterminded by Cranes goalie Denis Masinde Onyango in the next stage.

Caps united Vs Victors FC.

Conel Tushabe Bell's boys experienced their worst debut in the continental championship when they were thrashed 2-nil at their home soil in the 1st leg. The high inflation rate and the cholera out break coupled with the task of scoring three goals with out conceding any, has made the Harare trip for the Ugandans one of their worst. This has forced the Ugandan soccer fraternity to summerise Victors' trip into just 'a tour trip'.

Prior to the 1st leg, the newly acquired club tactician, George Lutalo promised heaven on earth to the Ugandans only to swallow his words shortly after the game. He later reasoned that the loss was due to the in experience of his team but didn't hastate to remind that soccer is soccer. In short, that they still have a chance in Harare.

His words have been described by the some Ugandans as just his consolation, foretelling that unless otherwise a heavier nasty punishment on the Valentines day seem to await them in Harare. Uganda's poor away record will not help matters either.

In the 1st leg, the hosts were totally out played and the inexperience was evident ranging from the playing staff to the technical bench of where non of the trio- head coach George Lutalo and his assistants Waswa Bbosa and Paul Mukatabala posses any coaching qualifications at this level.

The trio seem to have got it wrong from the word go with their questionable, team selection, decision making and substitution.

However, we shouldn't cry much for the spilt milk as the only alternative for Lutalo is to risk and go offensive despite being away. This will call for his extravagant striking line this time to utilize even a 50/50 chance if they are to prove the public wrong, that soccer is soccer.

The team's play maker Simon Sserunkuma was the only player worth a mention on that day but this time he will have to triple his efforts and hope that the striking trio of Julius Engwedu, Fred Muhumuza and Noah Ssemakula rediscover their scoring boots.

Edriis Kaaye return to the starting line up after nursing his back ache injury to take charge of the mid field as team captain Isaac Katwere commands the rear guard.

There is an aphorism that fortune always strikes when hope is at its lowest ebb. So let's keep our fingers crossed and rely on Lutalo's words that soccer is soccer, though not being unpatriotic, it takes more than soccer wizards in the making of Frank Backenbeour to convince me that, the Ugandans stand a chance at Mugabe's den.

Bengo to lead the Joogos at the intimidating atmosphere of Wankulukuku
Bengo to lead the Joogos at the intimidating atmosphere of Wankulukuku.

Express FC against SC Villa

Once upon time, the Eagle and the Cock used to be close pals and lived in the same sanctuary .This was until one day when Mr. Cock turned back home with salt but walking on one leg with the other hidden in the feathers. When the eagle asked how he got the salt, the cock deceived that he had exchanged his leg for salt. Mr. Eagle did the same and on return, found the cock walking on the two which completely resulted into an adversarial relationship between the two since then.

This is the precise kind of relationship that the two Uganda's popular clubs Express FC, the Red Eagles and SC Villa, Jogoo (Swahili word for a cock) are enjoying .The two are the most nemesis clubs in Uganda to an extent that it's a taboo to find a staunch Express FC fanatic donning a blue color like wise a villa fan putting on a red attire.

It's this rivalry that tends to hype the encounter involving the two and hooliganism is often part of it. The two once again come face to face this Friday ,13/2/2009 at Muteesa 11 memorial stadium, Wankulukuku in the quarter finals of Kakungululu cup, an equivalent of the Kings Cup in Spain or the FA cup in England.

In their last previous league encounter, Villa fans boycotted entering the stadium arguing that the entry fee of 5000 shillings was too high after learning that all the revenue was to go to the coffers of the host side. Thus they spent the whole 90 minutes cheering the team from outside.

The other key characteristic of this encounter is that, form book hardly apply .The case of point is the above mentioned tie when Villa traveled two Wankulukulu as an outright favorite only to be silenced by 2-1 defeat.

Currently the Joogos are running neck to neck with KCC FC for the league title while their counterparts are languishing down in the 9th position. Villa coach Sula Kato has already warned his boys not to underrate their opponents.

"We are aware that our game with Express has never been easy, but we are prepared for any atmosphere that awaits us at Wankulukuku," says the former star left midfielder.

If there is any player that the Red eagles have to watch out for, it should be danger man Stephen Bengo. The stout dynamic midfielder is in real shape and is a kind of a player that can single handedly win the game.

He has been instrumental in SC Villa last two wins against Sharing FC and Iganga TC in the National Super League.

Emma Okwi and on loan striker Augustine Nsumba are expected to supplement Bengo in the goal hunt as Kenyan skipper Tonny Ndoro keeps a close eye at Express FC's striking line masterminded by 'Mzee' Sserunkuma and Jingo.

The other quarterfinals ties pit Uganda Revenue Authority against 1st division side Maroons FC while army side Simba FC locks horns with Bunamwaya. Victors will take on Uganda Police FC on 24th February 2009 after returning from Harare for their continental engagement.

By Ramathan Kasozi
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First published: February 14, 2009
To learn more about Ultimate Media Consult go to www.ultimatemediaconsult.com.

Ramathan Kasozi is a member of Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd. . A graduate Journalist, Kasozi has more than 5 years experience reporting on sports in Uganda for different print and broadcast media houses.