Crazy stuff. Enthralling. Mind boggling. Police’s clash with Express defined everything good about the beautiful game.
The former won 4-3. Both teams deserved more goals at near-empty Namboole on Saturday.
Fittingly, it finished with substitute forward Ben Ocen scoring the winner in the 98th minute after Pius Kaggwa’s nutmeg left defender Ronnie Kisekka feasting on grass to set him up.
This was Police’s first victory in seven on Kaggwa’s first start. Express, Uganda’s oldest club (1957) and league pioneers in 1968, remained bottom of the league on 16 points.
The Red Eagles are four points from safety but could seek solace from relegation rivals’ Proline, who lost 1-0 to BUL at home on Friday. Proline have 18 points and lie second from bottom.
For a club famously known as “Mukwano gwa Bangi,” they need to find love now!
It is hard to imagine what the watching Uganda Cranes coach Sebastien Desabre thought of the display. Neutrals thoroughly enjoyed a hugely eventful evening that served no sedatives.
What Shafiq Bisaso’s side treated the 300 or so fans at the 40,000-seater Namboole on Saturday, though, is something the league here hasn’t not had for a very long time.
A high octane game started with Norman Ogik flicking the ball over goalkeeper Tony Kyamera for Police to earn the lead on three minutes. Michael Birungi equalized soon after from a goal mouth scramble.
It swung either side before Ayub Kisalita put Express ahead. The goal was given by the assitant referee who adjuged the ball to have crossed the line. The halftime breather was timely to accord everyone a rest. After that, Kaggwa restored parity with a low shot from outside the box in the 50th minute.
Kisalita found a second goal to put Express 3-2 ahead. His strike from over 40 yards as the game registered its second goalkeeping gaffe.
Police threw the kitchen sink and had a ‘goal’ denied when the ball crossed the line but the assistant referee didn’t give it.
Ogik eventually equalized, turning in a header in a crowded box for 3-3 in the 85th minute. Prior to the goal, Bisaso was seen urging Kyamera to ‘get injured’ in a bid to waste time.
The Express ‘doctor’ attempted to pick a water bottle from the Police dugout before running on to the pitch. Coach Abdallah Mubiru almost smacked him.
With the hosts tiring and offering lots of space, striker Alfred Leku and Birungi could have buried them only to miss gilt-edged chances from point blank range.
Leku fluffed a one-on-one opportunity while he also squared the ball only for Birungi to exert more force on the wind than the ball, totally missing it. The referee Aisha Ssemambo compensated for Kyamera’s time wasting and substitutions with 10 minutes of added time.
However, there not being a board, the fourth official Robert Donney, informed the two benches that three minutes had been granted on top of the 90.
Had Ssemambo adhered to this, the teams would have shared a point but football offers more cruelty than that. Ocen smashed home the winner before dusk off a Kaggwa pass.
The manner in which the latter reduced Kisekka to Namboole fodder will live long. At full time, tears rolled down the cheeks of Express assistant coach Hassan Mubiru.
The legendary striker, a multiple league top scorer couldn’t take the heartache, or rather the misses as Express sink.
Mubiru ran off as soon Ocen’s effort hit the back of the net. His players disappeared in the opposite direction. Mubiru was equally drenched in sweat, just like his players.
Express fans gathered around their team’s dressing room threatening Birungi and accusing the players of not having a heart for the club.
Those 100 minutes for 90-minute game felt insufficient, for once.