The second most prestigious football competition in the country, the Uganda Cup, will reach its climax on Saturday, as Proline FC and Bright Stars face at the Recreation grounds in Masaka.
The 45th edition of the tournament will see a historical final as both teams will be seeking their maiden titles. This is also the first time since 2013 that neither Vipers nor KCCA have made it to the finals of this competition.
And Proline head coach Shafic Bisaso is optimistic that his team can do the double after defeating Wakiso Giants in the Big League play off finals against earlier this month.
“I am not looking at history but we believe this is our time. I know we are facing a big team who have played in the Uganda Premier League for a long time and they have a good coach but we are ready,” he said during a press conference.
“We respect them but do not fear them at all. They do not know our weak points although they know our strong points. This is the best time we have had as Proline and we are also motivated by Big League final we had,” Bisaso added.
His opposite number Fred Kajoba who has already managed in two Uganda Cup finals – winning and losing one – sounded bullish, stating that they are under no pressure because Proline themselves do know what is going to happen in the final
“I congratulate my fellow coach for bringing back Proline to where they belong – the Uganda Premier League. We are ready to play in the finals. There is no pressure at all. Proline knows what is going to happen in this fina,l” Kajoba Said.
Proline are the third club from the big league to reach the finals of the tournament after Onduparaka and Paidha Black Angels appeared in back-to-back finals in 2016 and 2017.
They however, had to maneuver seven rounds to get here. They triumphed over fellow big league side Light SS 3-1 before they eliminated UPL side Nyamityobora in their own back yard in Mbarara thanks to a Mustafa Mujjuzi penalty.
Proline then acquired the title of giant killers after shockingly eliminating Onduparaka FC at Lugogo before last year’s runners up Vipers SC also fell to them thanks to a Ibrahim Bonyo winner in extra time at the Startimes Stadium in Lugogo to set up their first semi-final appearance.
They were then handed an all big league semi-final against Kyetume with both teams tied at 3-3 after two legs, Bisaso’s side eventually prevailed 4-3 after an intense shoot out at Lugogo.
Their opponents, Bright Stars kicked off their journey with a 4-0 thumping of lower league neighbours Kazo Excel before penalties were decisive as they narrowly defeated Bumate United 5-3 at the Christ High School ground in Bundibujjo.
The Stars then eliminated URA 2-1 at the round of 16. Brian Kayanja’s solo effort was enough as the eliminated Nebbi Central 1-0 at the quarter finals.
Kajoba’s team were unfancied after the semifinal draw pitted them against Express FC. However, they held their fort against the joint-record winners as the game was tied 2-all after both legs, Bright Stars then went on to win the tie 3-2 on penalties.
Bisaso will back on big league top scorer Bright Anukani for a threat upfront while Ibrahim Bonyo can offer a second option in attack. Skipper Noordin Bunjo’s performances spell rejuvenation. KCCA loanees Ibrahim Wamannah and goal keeper Hassan Matovu have also been influential for Proline this season.
Midfielder Joseph Mandela’s drive and attitude could be a source of inspiration for them while defender Mustafa Mujjuzi – the club’s top scorer with three goals – will provide much needed cover at the back.
Hamza Muwonge was the hero in the shootout against Express will carry similar significance in the finals. Former Proline striker and Bright stars Captain Nelson Senkatuka could provide his last contribution to Bright Stars by winning them their first trophy.
Striker Brian Kayanja has not featured alot in the second round of the season but could spring a suprise. Jamil Kaliisa, Methodius Jjunju and midfielder Augustine Kacancu could be the match winners for the Stars.
FIFA certified referee Ali Chelangat Sabira will handle the final assisted by Mark Ssonko and Isa Masembe as first and second assistants respectively. William Oloya will be the fourth official.
KCCA and Express do share the record for most trophy wins in the competition holding out at 10 trophies apiece, while no team from the big league has ever won the trophy.