19 June 2017

Uganda: KCCA's First Double Washes Away Previous Heartbreaks

Photo: The Observer
In 1985, KCC contested the Uganda Cup final against Express FC just days after winning the league title. With two trophies lined up at Nakivubo stadium, Express emerged victorious to spoil KCC’s double. In the photo, KCC skipper Charles Masiko (L) receives the league title from Andrew Lutakome Kayira, then Internal Affairs minister.

Thursday's Uganda Cup final provided a rare opportunity for KCCA to exercise the ghost of being the only traditional giant never to have won a league and Cup double. SC Villa has six while Express has one.

So, between KCCA and the double was Big League side Paidha Black Angels, whose fairytale run to the final included giant-killing exploits against topflight sides Vipers and Sadolin FC.

On paper, Paidha was no match for Mike Mutebi's KCCA, but there were a few doubts on the favourites due to their congested fixture schedule of recent that included Caf Confederation Cup matches on top of having a sizeable number of players on national team duty.

Besides, Paidha had absolutely no pressure playing at their backyard. So, the pressure was on KCCA to fulfill a dream that eluded great players such as Phillip Omondi, Tom Lwanga, Jimmy Kirunda, Moses Nsereko and John Latigo among others.

In the end, however, KCCA proved too strong for Paidha and, in the process, Mutebi etched his name in record books as one of only five coaches to win the double. The others are Polly Ouma (1986 with Villa), Geoff Hudson (1988 & 1989 with SC Villa), Jimmy Muguwa (1995 with Express FC) Paul Hasule (1998 & 2000 with Villa) and Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic (2002 with Villa).

Have you spared a thought that KCCA could end 2017 with a treble if they go on to lift the Confederation Cup? That would rank as the biggest achievement for any Ugandan football team. Granted, as a lifelong KCCA fan, I'm still basking in the rare glory of the double; it is even sweeter when you look back at the ones that went away.

1983

KCCA had just wrestled the league title from Villa when the two teams qualified for the Uganda Cup final. Whereas KCC was in line for a league and Cup triumph, I recall that talk about the double was not a such a big deal. Top teams were still regrouping and the rivalry had not yet reached tense heights.

Having said that, Villa somehow felt they had let the league title slip away given their star-studded side that included Ronald Vubya, Rogers Nsubuga, Jamil Kasirye, Paul Hasule, Godfrey Kisitu, Shaban Mwinda, Sunday Mokiri and Davis Kamoga among others.

Actually, the buildup to the match was highlighted by Villa's quest to avenge KCC's league triumph. Indeed, the Jogoos did so courtesy of a Sula Sentamu strike.

1985

This is one of the most incident-filled seasons. KCC edged Express on goal difference to win the league title in extremely controversial circumstances when they played their final game after their rivals.

Bad blood followed the two teams when they reached the Uganda Cup final. While Express accused KCC of winning the title with the help of league organisers, KCC sought to rub it in by denying the Red Eagles any silverware that season. That is when talk of a double gained attention and drove the Uganda Cup final into some sort of frenzy.

Due to hype, the final brought out several top government figures with allegiance to both clubs. KCC were favourites but it was Express that took the lead through Joachim Matovu before Charles Masiko equalized for KCC shortly after recess. That game is best remembered for the torment Express winger Fred Mukasa inflicted on the KCC backline of John Latigo, Tom Lwanga, Masiko and Charles Katumba.

Time and again, Mukasa's speed and trickery made rightback Lati- go, the dependable Cranes skipper at the time, look pedestrian. Mukasa later set up Express' second goal after his piledriver bounced off KCC goalie John Tebusweke into the path of Phillip Musoke, who made no mistake from close range. Mukasa capped off a memorable afternoon by assisting Jimmy Muguwa for a neat finish for a 3-1 final score.

In the years that followed, Villa asserted themselves as the dominant team in Ugandan football with several doubles and it took KCC two full generations before they could get a sniff at the opportunity to become a Salongo.

2014

KCCA had just won back-to-back league titles in emphatic fashion and drummed up the possibility of the double when George Nsimbe's men reached the Uganda Cup final against URA. I wasn't able to travel for the game at Mbale municipal stadium but will never forget the tension throughout the entertaining 2-2 draw before URA nicked in the shoot-out.

WAY FORWARD

Now that Mutebi has led the team to the Promised Land, I've also noted that the Kasasiro Boys have bridged the onetime improbable trophy gap with Villa and Express. It is astonishing that KCCA has won four league titles in the past five years and their latest Uganda Cup success pulls them to nine titles along with SC Villa. Both teams are just one shy of record winners Express.

When you consider the fact that KCCA's 12th league crown has also narrowed Villa's (16 titles) gap to just four, one cannot help but wonder how long it may take be- fore the Kasasiro Boys become the most successful team in Ugandan football.

For now, though, focus at Lugogo should be about building a formidable team to become a consistent campaigner on the continent. After all, the club is financially solid, has a home stadium, boasts of the best coach and set of players, has laid-out structures not to mention to goodwill from sponsors.

The author is operations director of The Observer Media Ltd.

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