By Rogers Mulindwa in Khartoum
Uganda's Sports Club Victoria University on Wednesday night won the inaugural Cecafa Nile Basin Cup. SCVU beat Kenya's AFC Leopards 2-1 in the final of the regional soccer tournament reserved for Cup winners in the CECAFA region.
Jacob Odongo broke the deadlock on 29 minutes to give SC Victoria University a deserved lead before AFC replied through Ikkene in extra minutes of the first period. It is the only goal the Ugandans conceded in the tournament.
Then, in normal time, SC Victoria University won a free kick at the edge of the box. Mutyaba Muzamiru made no mistake for the famous win.
SCVU lift the trophy above. The AFC team below. Photo courtesy of Rogers Mulindwa
Victoria University’s journey to the CECAFA trophy
When Victoria University landed into Khartoum City for the CECAFA Nile Basin Cup, they were little known to many people within the football circles. Actually they were looked to as mere ‘University boys’. The club qualified to play in the final against Kenya’s AFC Leopards. Below is how it has all happened:
1. Group opponents
Victoria University was placed in group ‘A’ along-side hosts Al-Merreikh [Sudan], Malakia [S.Sudan] and police/polisi [Zanzibar].
2. Size of the squad
Travelled to Khartoum with only 18 players-Benjamin Ochan, Kimera Ali [GK], Oola okot, Agandu Fred, Ochwo Brian, Delu Hamza, Martin Mpuga [Captain], Agege Benard and jjuuko Maurishid [Defenders]. Yasser Mugerwa, Mutyaba Muzamir, Jackson Kibirige, Opolot Isiagi, Mawejje Muwada [Mid Fielders]. Toorach Brian, Ssemakula Noah, Sapeo Ceaser, Odong Mathew [Strikers]. They never completed their allocated slot of 20 players!
3. First assignment [1-0]
Their first match was against Malakia, a club that played a physical game giving the Ugandan side a very hard time. Mutyaba Muzamir scored their lone goal in the 12th minute as striker Semakula Noah picked up an injury that ruled him out of action for the rest of the tournament. The squad now reduced to 17 players!
4. Al-Merreikh battle [0-0]
One day later they were back in action and this time against the then tournament favourites and hosts, Al-Merreikh. Despite the big-name composition, Victoria held the home side to a goalless draw to register their presence as one of the cup contenders.
5. Walloped Police 3-0
Their last group stage match was against Police from Zanzibar Islands whom they walloped 3-0 with goals coming from Mutyaba Muzamir 39’, Kibirige Jackson 44’ & 48’. They finished second on the table below Al-Merreikh with same points but disadvantaged by one goal difference.
6. Eliminates Mbeya City [1-0]
In the quarter final pairings, Victoria University were lined up against Mbeya City of Tanzania mainland. This was their worst game played as they looked disjointed on pitch but carried the day with a 1-0 win through Kibirige Jackson.
7. Victorious over Shandy [1-0]
Their semi-final fixture against Al Ahly Shandy [Sudan] was the biggest task ahead of them in this tournament. The boys however put up a spirited fight to contain the speedy and attack-minded Sudanese. Their strategy paid off in the 83rd min when Mutyaba Muzamir scored their lone goal to end the game 1-0 in their favour. It was un- believable!
8. Clear instructions
Notable among others is the good working relationship between Coach Molly Byekwaso and his assistant Nestroy Kizito. During a match, they consult each other and therefore make right substitutions. But more so, Byekwaso sounds very timely and clear instructions to his boys.
9. Mutyaba’s red card
Mutyaba Muzamir was one of the four bad boys of the tournament that got the send –offs during the preliminary stage. He had to miss the game against Mbeya City and his absence could be noticed on the pitch. He returned against Ahly Shandy on Monday and did the needful.
10. Good Captaincy
Club Captain Mpuga Martin has proved a good commander of his force. I recall some of his words to the teammate as, ‘We are better…lets fight on, don’t give up……., our goal must come shortly, push on….’ He keeps encouraging his teammates throughout the game. His defence has also been outstanding.
11. Clean sheet maintained
Victoria University went into the final without conceding a single goal. Goal keeper Benjamin Ochan has proved the best custodian in the two weeks tournament. Ali Kimera was the one in charge as Victoria walloped Police 3-0.
12. The Final
Victoria University were on paper a better side than their opponents AFC Leopards but the Kenyans went into the game with a winning mentality having won all their matches so far played. The Leopards missed the services of Benard Mangoli and Noah Wafula who were sent off in Monday games.