KAMPALA. In every sense, the tense-filled Uganda Premier League encounter between hosts Vipers and KCCA on Friday at St Mary’s Stadium-Kitende lived to the billing.
There was little space to breathe – on and off the pitch. Goals were bound to flow in gluts and so they did – early. Tackles too flew high testing the resolve of Fifa referee Ali Sabila who interestingly dished out only five yellow cards.
KCCA showed early intent by grabbing the lead early through a Muhammad Shaban near post header on 12 minutes that caught the entire Vipers defence off guard.Milton Karisa levelled the score two minutes later after a goal mouth melee. Tempers flared, the stadium charged as the coaches revisited their tactical boards.The referee’s credentials were then put to stern scrutiny when Shaban headbutted Vipers’ midfield enforcer Tadeo Lwanga on 17 minutes, Sabila settled it with yellow cards to each. Erisa Ssekisambu, read Dan ‘Muzeyi’ Sserunkuma’s return ball well to position himself at the box edge and shoot the hosts in the lead on 45 minutes. Milton Karisa looked to have put the restless affair beyond KCCA’s reach on 81 minutes when he calmly controlled Yayo Lutimba’s cross to beat hapless Charles Lukwago between the sticks but Shaban had other ideas.
Shaban’s goal-of-the-season contender overhead volley, his fifth goal in two matches, on 84 minutes signalled the game was still alive.
Relying on home pandemonium and perfecting the physical approach, Edward Golola’s side held on to the win, one that temporarily took the three points atop the league before second placed Villa played Mbarara City at Kakyeka.
“It was a very good match between two sides with the most gifted players in the country. Vipers deserved victory and I can say we now have 50 percent chance of retaining the trophy,” KCCA manager Mike Mutebi revealed.
“But,Lwanga should have been sent off for hacking my boy Allan Okello.I withdrew him early to protect him from the hard tackles and that is where the game was lost.
“I would rather lose the title and protect the 18-year old’s future because he is the only genuine number 10 in the country,” Mutebi fumed.
For Golola, it was all about denying KCCA space and getting the three points at this crucial title bend.
“Football belongs to men.We had to deny Okello and other KCCA playmakers space to play and we succeed at that.”
With five league matches left to play, the notion that the title race may go down to the wire continues to gather more steam.
At Namboole, Vianey Ssekajugo ( brace), Moses Ndawula,Hassan Muhammad and Ezra Bida netted for Onduparaka as they pounded hosts Police 5-0 in a one sided match.