- Soccer. Whether Prolines have the finances to compete in the Caf Confederations tourney next year, one thing is certain, they have hit above their weight already.
- Attack and vigour. Proline ejected 2016 winners Vipers with goals from Nurdin Bunjo and Ibrahim Bonyo.
The magic of Uganda Cup rears its beautiful head again this month when Fufa Big League club Proline challenges the Uganda Premier League giants Express/Bright Stars in the finals of the knockout competition on May 25 at Masaka Recreation Ground.
Interestingly, Proline’s Cinderella status with their odds-defying run past perceived heavyweights like Onduparaka and Vipers comes at the same time they had to fight tooth and nail to return to the topflight status – a shoe string budget and a host of rookies at the club notwithstanding.
Upsets happen often, and wearing the underdog tag, Shafiq Bisaso’s Proline seems ready to spring another surprise and join the Uganda Cup folklore.
It all started with a ‘routine’ 3-1 triumph over Light SSS at StarTimes Stadium Lugogo at the round of 64.
Allan Egaku grabbed a brace while defender Mustafa Mujuzi scored a penalty which booked them a date with Nyamityobora at the round of 32 at Kakyeka Stadium.
Mujuzi’s penalty earned Proline a slim 1-0 victory that set them rolling into 2016 finalists Onduparaka’s path at the round of 16.
With the home advantage playing in their favour, Bright Anukani and Ivan Bogere scored for Proline to render Ceaser Okhuti’s effort a consolation in the pulsating 2-1 conquest.
Then came the quarterfinal clash with Vipers, again at Lugogo, that served to show the bemused world what Proline have up their sleeves and send a message of intent to the rest. Balancing crisp play, attack and vigour, Proline ejected 2016 winners Vipers with goals from skipper Nurdin Bunjo and Ibrahim Bonyo – sending tremours down the spines of their semifinal opponents – Kyetume, another tournament dark horse.
Bisaso’s side showed intent in the first leg in Kyetume winning 2-1 (with goals from Bonyo and Mujuzi) and when Jackson Mayanja’s side turned the tables to win 2-1 in the return leg at Lugogo, they held their nerves to with the resultant spot kicks shootout 4-3 and progress to the their maiden final. Sheer determination, considering they were ejected by nonentities Synergy last season at the quarterfinal stage.
Bisaso on the wheels
His name is profoundly mentioned in the Masaza tourney where he has won the title thrice yet at club level, he has largely struggled to put an imprint at Express, SC Villa and Proline before. Thankfully, he seems to be getting out of that shell now, but not before top management gave him ‘full powers’. Just last season, virtually everything at Proline rotated around Mujib Kasule – the defacto owner of the club. These days, club chairman Kato Kalibala gave Bisaso the powers to recruit, coach and steer the club forward with Kasule, tasked to solicit funds for the club, occasionally chipping in to advice.
Youth and experience
Proline, of late, can play in a variety of formations, often changing shape during a match, making it difficult for opposing teams to work out how to stop them. With first choice goalkeeper Saidi Keni off to Villa, Bisaso trusted KCCA loanee Hassan Matovu behind the backline of Mujuzi, Saka Mpiima, James Begesa and Ibrahim Sendi.
In defensive phases, Proline usually line up in a 4-3-2-1 formation, with four midfielders (A. Sserunjogi, Sam Kintu, Bunjo and Anukani) behind the ball and two strikers - one a target man able to hold up the ball (Ibrahim Bonyo) and another able to break forward at pace and run in behind an opposition defence (Ivan Bogere or Hakim Kiwanuka).
Whether a tactical preference or due to the players available, Bisaso goes for players that will keep the tradition of dominating possession .