Whatever the result of the Stanbic Uganda Cup final tomorrow at the Masindi Municipal Stadium, there will be a first-timer setting a record. Vipers are plotting to join the elite class of double-winners and Bul eye to make sense of their investments by becoming the 13th new winner of the second-most prized football trophy on the land.
This is a repeat of last season’s final where the Venoms outclassed the edible oil makers. Well, the Jinja side complained of departures and injuries but this time both sides clash when at full strength. We delve into the battles that could prove decisive tomorrow.
Roberto Oliveira vs. Alex Isabirye
Where else to start from than the familiar style of play and differing approaches. Since arriving at Kitende, Robertinho Oliviera has instilled a dominant style with a mix of flair and energy. That has seen the League champions boss games and score goals for fun.
Isabirye, too, has revolutionised Bul’s system to one with a back-three, a deep-lying midfielder or sometimes two, and a packed midfield with either a single or two strikers. His side scores goals but leaks in as well and will be up against one that has the meanest defence but boasts of the deadliest front three locally.
Yunus Sentamu vs. Walter Ochora
Walter Ochora has his work cut out both as a defender and captain. He has to defend as well as command his troops.
Ochora will be in the combustion zone of the furnace trying to stop a deadly attack force. His ability in one-on-one situations will be tested as he directly confronts a man who devalued him last season by putting four past the side he captained in despair.
Sentamu also scored one in their league meeting this season as well as forcing the centre-back to divert a clearance into his own net.
Sentamu is leading the scorer’s chart in the Cup with six goals spread generously to all the five sides he has faced so far. His threat can’t be emphasized further.
Bobosi Byaruhanga vs. George Kasonko
Bobosi Byaruhanga was the most-prized midfielder of the tournament last year. Though he has blown hot and cold this season, his ability to lift the ball and transit in the middle pack to the final third is priceless. He also has the eye for the goal from a distance.
However, he faces one of the best and most consistent defensive midfielders this season. Kasonko has rarely missed a tackle. His strength when hassling and combating Vipers ball carriers will be key for Bul. He has been effective while patrolling his borders. If the Venoms overwhelm him, Isabirye will likely add in Pascal Ngobi for a double pivot.
Aziz Kayondo vs. Simon Oketch
Just like Bul have enough reasons to worry about their defence when they come up against the blistering hot Vipers forwards, the reverse is also true.
One of those tight battles to keenly note is the action and reaction forces on Bul’s right wing or rather Vipers’ left back. Kayondo is swift and loves to go on the offensive. It could turn profitable or problematic. While Vipers might be forced to use his attacking strength on his wing to counter and loop over Bul’s packed midfield, he could dangerously leave pockets of spaces behind.
Oketch, probably the revelation of the season, has terrorised defences with his quick runs from that wing. The central defenders and midfielders could be attracted to Ibrahim Nsiimbe’s mobility and Karim Ndugwa’s presence in the box and fail to cover the spaces.
The same energy is expected on Vipers right flank where Militon Karisa will be taking on Richard Ayiko.
A humiliating defeat … Can Bul rise from 8-1?
After shocking fatigued Express that was already teeming with internal wrangles after a disappointing Caf Champions League exit, Bul thought they could confront Vipers for their first ever title. But the Venoms turned up in the most lethal of forms with Yunus Sentamu striking four times past the jaded edible oil makers who did not even appear to have a full strength team, let alone the fit ones.
Bul have been nursing revenge adrenaline and making the final on the bounce could not have been a better chance. There won’t be any excuses as they seek to overturn that 8-1 humiliation.
Sunday | Final – 4pmVipers vs. Bul