Benjamin Mayanja scores twice, although misses a penalty, as Vision Group thrash Nation Media Group in a friendly at Villa Park.
FRIENDLY FOOTBALL MATCH
|Vision Group||2-0||Nation Media Group|
By Joseph Kizza
VILLA PARK - As soon as the referee's whistle whirred to signal the end of the game, it was the fans of one side that burst onto the Villa Park turf to reunite and celebrate with their sweat-drenched weary players, who had emerged victorious in a tight friendly encounter on Saturday.
It was contrasting scenes on a sweltering early evening as the Vision Group camp jubilated a well-earned 2-0 victory over Nation Media Group (Uganda).
Two second-half goals by Benjamin Mayanja settled this contest between the country's media giants, who put their pens and notebooks aside and slapped on jerseys and boots for a highly billed footballing matchup in the heart of the city.
In all honesty, the scoreline cannot tell the whole story of a dramatic duel that started off with both sides exchanging handshakes in the true spirit of the game we have grown to love. The weather was kind - albeit a tad too generous with its heat, which got players soaking in sweat even before kickoff.
But once the ball got rolling, the encounter showed so much promise of an exciting affair.
It was two-way traffic, although Nation saw more of the ball in the early stages of a match watched ever so keenly by effervescent fans on the sidelines. I immediately created the hashtag #VisionMonitor for the tweeps on the cyber to follow along.
On the pitch, early nerves were evident - on both sides.
Of course this was no Barcelona vs Real Madrid finesse on show, but the gentlemen sure put in their all, rolling back the years to give their respective fans something to get excited about.
Nation got the first free-kick of the day, but it was hastily delivered and nothing came out of it. Immediately after, Vision launched a meaningful counter-attack, a forward played through, with only the keeper to beat. But the goalstopper slid out in Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich) style to clear the danger. Should have been 1-0.
Another perfect chance fell to Vision - again from a counter.
A pass was threaded to Julius Ssenyimba, who had only the keeper between him and the goalmouth. But after half-rounding the goalie, the seasoned striker's weak effort was horrendous and for someone who normally finds no problem scoring goals, Ssenyimba was right to bury his head in his hands - in clear disappointment - as fans stood there in disbelief, wondering how that had failed to go in.
At this point, Nation were on the ropes, but thanks to Vision's profligacy and lack of precision in front of goal, the Namuwongo-based side evaded early punishment.
The talking point of the first half was a strike by Vision that hit the inside of the crossbar, before crashing back down on the line and getting cleared out of danger. Did it cross the line? No, was the referee's decision, as he waved for play to carry on.
Having felt hard done by, the Vision camp soon put that contentious moment of the game behind them when Mayanja struck early after the interval to give the Industrial Area-based side the lead.
From then on, it was all Vision. Deft touches here and there, and bossing of possession as Nation's players tired by every touch they had been reduced to chasing.
A glorious opportunity arrived in the form of a penalty midway into the second half. Goal-scorer Mayanja stepped up to put the game to bed. He took a few steps back to gain momentum, but his kick to the keeper's right was parried by the same man to keep Nation still in contention.
The men in navy blue had chances of their own - but were often undone by their feet and a deficiency in invention. One was a miskick right in front of an open goal while another such chance was overcooked and blasted over the bar into the fluttering tear-drops.
It was game over when Vision found the second goal after a period of delicious, nifty passes. Moses Kigongo was played through into acres of space on the left flank, and the midfielder exhibited great composure to beat his minder, drive to the edge and then thread a pass to Mayanja, who made no mistake and lashed home his brace.
That goal proved too much for the Nation keeper to deal with, and it appeared that he got injured in the process of unsuccessfully trying to keep the effort out. After minutes of writhing in apparent pain on the ground, he soon struggled back on his feet after swift on-pitch medical checkup.
With all the missed chances on both ends, the scoreline should have been richer.
But the truth of the day was clear: Only one side with a vision for goals remained standing.
Here is the game in (more) pictures: