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Reliving the 2018 Uganda Cup final

No one as striker Patrick Kaddu epitomized the unwavering spirit that KCCA FC had in bagging a tenth Uganda Cup title on Saturday June 9 at the community field in Bukedea.

It was Kaddu’s spadework that resulted in KCCA’s match-winning goal. In peeling away from Vipers defender Halid Lwaliwa, and entering the penalty area, Kaddu played a cut back pass, to set up Allan Okello, who was lurking outside the area.

Okello’s miscued shot was then met by the header of Julius Poloto on 42 minutes, to make it 1-0, a goal that sealed the title for KCCA. However, that was just one of the defining moments of the 2018 Stanbic Uganda Cup final. For starters, Kaddu just acted his own version of Mel Gibson’s Brave Heart action movie.

KCCA Captain Timothy Awany carries the Uganda Cup aloft

Following a head collision with Lwaliwa on 78 minutes, that left Kaddu covered in blood, and seated near the Vipers penalty area, immediately he got bandaged, he just returned to the field, and went on with the job like he had not been hurt. It was incredible.

“I could not afford to leave the pitch. We were already a man down, so extra effort was needed from everyone to ensure, that we did not end the season without a trophy. At the end of the day, that injury and the pain was all worth it,” Kaddu said.

All evening, Kaddu was the box-to-box kind of player, as he helped out on both ends of the field, which was remarkable for a player that was never first among equals at KCCA FC. Although Kaddu announced his arrival at the club last September, and scored in a 3-0 KCCA win over Paidha Black Angels in the Fufa Super Cup, he was down the pecking order.

But for Kaddu to have been decisive for the Kasasiro boys did not only vindicate him. He won his first major title; one that the KCCA fraternity will forever be grateful for. The verve and sheer determination with which Kaddu played could easily have earned him the man-of-the-match award.

Even after the whole of his head had been wrapped up, a situation, that would have got many fearing for him, Kaddu just stuck in. As Kaddu had done all evening, running the Vipers defence rugged with his physicality and lay-offs to teammates, to get into space, the pain did not deter him.

In fact, with the clock ticking away, Kaddu played a delicate pass off his chest, right into the path of midfielder Paul Mucureezi, who had goalkeeper Isma Watenga at his mercy. Unfortunately for Mucureezi, and for Kaddu, who would have claimed a priceless assist, Watenga thwarted the combination, that would have made it 2-0.

Yet, ultimately, the job had already been done, as it did not take long before the referee put a stop to the proceedings. While this stirred a reaction from the Vipers coach Miguel Duarte Da Costa, who was up in arms, that the three added minutes were so few considering the stoppages in the second half, the awards ceremony capped a special occasion.

The medals provided by tournament’s sponsors, Stanbic Bank looked so much better than what had ever been presented in the past. Right from the ribbon bearing the medal, gold looked like gold, as did the silver; emblazoned with the tournament’s logo and the Stanbic bank and Fufa logos.

There was an aura of legend encompassing the entire occasion. For example, the best goalkeeper of the tournament, KCCA’s Charles Lukwago, received his award from the Africa Footballer of the year (based in Africa) 2016, Denis Onyango, who also doubles as Cranes goalkeeper.

If there had been any doubt about Lukwago’s credentials (you see SC Villa’s Samson Kirya inspired his club to the semi-finals without conceding a goal), the save he pulled off on 53 minutes, following the lobbed volley by Vipers striker Milton Karisa, put that to rest.

In fact, one KCCA fan, Meddie Ssetimba said moments after that magnificent save, that if only the video crews that covered the match could get him that clip, he was ready to pay top dollar. Such was the world class save that Lukwago made.

He deserved every piece of applause that came his way as a result. And the Hisense flat screen 24 inch television, Lukwago took home as a prize, was not more than he deserved. Looking at the bigger picture, this was a fine gesture from Fufa and its sponsors, to give such prizes.

Playing in the Uganda Cup final indeed felt honourable, Kaddu said. Allan Okello, who was voted the tournament’s MVP, carried home a similar TV set, handed to him by another legend of the game, Hakim ‘boda-boda’ Magumba.

Magumba won four Uganda Cup titles with SC Villa in 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2015. Indeed, not many players are as decorated as Magumba. So, to have him on the crowning moment of the Uganda Cup, was not only graceful, but also a celebration of success personified.

Besides that, the Uganda Cup final also went a long way in amplifying the message of fair play on and off the field. The players of both sides exemplified themselves in being respectful towards each other in the midst of tight competition.

In addition, both the Vipers and KCCA fans inter-mingled during the match. They even made fun of each other’s players. KCCA fans referred to Vipers midfielder Tadeo Lwanga as a kajambiya (machete), while Vipers fans referred to KCCA’s defender Paul Musamali, as a makanika (untalented), who could not even control the ball.

Even with all this banter, there was no threat of stone throwing; a showcase of sportsmanship, even with the stakes as high as they were. Remember, KCCA were teetering on finishing the season without any silverware for the first time in three years, while the Vipers fraternity were desperate to complete their first league and Cup double.

No wonder, Vipers did not stay around long after they received their runners-up medals. They were disappointed; something their coach Da Costa did not hide. He was not receptive to media interviews. But generally as a team, Vipers remained gracious in defeat.

Julius Poloto, Patrick Kaddu and Allan Okello celebrate KCCA FC's goal

Considering that they had a few chances in the game, which they did not capitalize on, as KCCA did, Vipers could only fault themselves for lacking the cutting edge. But by and large, the tie was evenly poised throughout, and the referee Mashood Ssali managed it well.

When the KCCA manager was asked about the red card given to his star midfielder Sadam Juma on 68 minutes, he said the referee was spot on. Maybe the one area where Ssali came short was in the added time.

After the second half stoppages caused by the five substitutions made, to which each is mandated 30 seconds (two and a half minutes in total), and injuries to players, particularly the one of Kaddu, where he had to be treated on the field for close to three minutes, Da Costa was right to feel cheated.

Not that any such remonstrations from Da Costa really mattered at the end of it all. For Kaddu, he was not even aware there was such a thing. He was busy basking in the glory; one he feels will expedite his recovery from the head injury he suffered.

As Kaddu takes in the breeze from Lake Victoria, that his home in Luzira overlooks, he is reminiscing about how well the season has turned out for him. He started the season for KCCA as the third or fourth choice striker depending how one looked at it.

Kaddu was behind Nsibambi, Shaban and Tito Okello on a number of occasions. Yet he has finished the season with six league goals, and the top-scorer in the Stanbic Uganda Cup with seven goals, including a hat trick in the semi-finals against Synergy FC. With it, came a huge Hisense television set; all after shading his blood on Bukedea soil for the KCCA cause.

jovi@observer.ug

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