Perhaps the stand out image from the opening day of the Copa Coca-Cola Schools Cup came when the final whistle blew on Kitende’s 2-0 win over Nakaseke International.
Early in the opening half, Nakaseke dominated the game. Simon Oketch fluffed a chance.
Thomas Kabaale dinked the ball in behind the Kitende line, and about three yards separating Simon Oketch from the goalkeeper looked certain to take the lead.
But he tried to make a little too sure of beating the keeper, and when it seemed easier to score he fired his shot just wide. It was Nakaseke’s best chance of the game. In fact, it was their only attempt of the game. But it was gone. When the game was over, Oketch said they were just unlucky.
It was a touching sight and one that, in a way, went some distance towards summing up the start of the competition. Goals have not been coming and indeed there has been more disappointment than celebration.
While Royal Giants against Sentah College was an enthralling game only wasted by the referee, much of the action so far has struggled to get out of first gear. There are a few obvious explanations. In part, the tournament kick-off coincided with the start of the holy month of Ramadan.
The sweltering heat in Jinja is also taking a toll on the players. In the case of the weaker teams, there is a lack of quality on show. And, for those who played the Premier, Juniors or Big League, this tournament is almost certainly getting underway too soon.
Kitende are visibly a better side than last year with an enterprising attack of Richard Basangwa and SC Villa’s Charles Lwanga as well as an affable midfield of Andrew Kawooya, Steven Serwadda, Ivan Asaba and Bobosi Byaruhanga. On paper, Hill View, Mbarara High, Fort Portal SS, Iganga Parents, and Ngora High are less daunting opposition.
But the circumstances are more difficult, especially after enduring a three-year trophy drought.
Coming up this evening is the opening ceremony. Hosts JICO plays St John’s Mukono. You can’t read much into Jico’s ambitions although some of the stars here may well exit the competition with the same feeling of Nakaseke’s Oketch - straining but not quite succeeding.
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