Buganda, Masaza Cup, Covid-19, Njeru, Buwekula, Buddu
By GEORGE KATONGOLE
The Airtel Masaza Cup will be the second football tournament to be hosted by Uganda after the Covid-19 pandemic struck. The tournament will be held at Njeru Technical Centre in Buikwe District starting on December 12.
With strict Covid-19 protocols over social distancing and mass events, there were doubts whether the 16th edition of the Buganda Kingdom premier football event would be held.
However, when officials of the football federation (Fufa) and Buganda Kingdom met with sponsors, an assurance to make the tournament possible was received.
To host this year's tournament that will be held in a bubble, all 18 teams will have to abide by strict Covid-19 norms. Fufa deputy chief executive Decolas Kiiza told a gathering at the kingdom headquarters in Mengo yesterday that all teams must strictly adhere to the protocols. "This is an important tournament to the kingdom and we are keen to make it as enjoyable as possible," Kiiza said.
As per the current norms, a prior Covid negative test is mandatory for all players and team officials as well as quarantine during the duration of the tournament. All group games will be played in a round-robin format until the quarterfinals.
Determined to bring football back
"The kingdom will have our support and as Fufa, we are committed to bringing back the football action," said Kiiza.
But to have the tournament, the kingdom has worked with partners Airtel and Centenary Bank to raise up to Shs1.14bn with the rest coming from the Buganda coffers. The organisers will foot Covid-16, accommodation and feeding while individual teams will take care of players' facilitation.
The competition was supposed to start in July but because of the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was postponed.
Defending champions Bulemeezi will play the opening game against Butambala on December 12 at Kasana-Luweero with His Majesty the Kabaka of Buganda Ronald Muwenda Mutebi gracing the occasion. Teams will thereafter move to Njeru Technical Centre for the duration of the tournament.
MASAZA CUP GROUPS
Mawokota, Kyadondo, Bugerere, Kooki, Busujju
Bulemeezi, Ssingo, Buluuli, Mawogola, Butambala
Busiro, Kyaggwe, Buweekula, Buvuma
Buddu, Gomba, Kabula, Ssese