By West Denis
The writing was on the wall that record winners Kibuli were in the Copa Coca-Cola tourney in Mbarara as tourists rather than competitors but few cared to read them.
To start with, they were not supposed to qualify but benefited from the wild card opportunity granted by Kampala region organisers.
At the time when Kampala schools are at their lowest (only Old Kampala managed to progress from the group stages as Kibuli, Lubiri , Kakungulu Memorial and Kololo faced the axe), the record winners could only finish fifth.
They lacked proficient players like Allan Okello, Adam Musisi, Fred Tabu, Abubaker Kasule, Ali Mwerusi and Julius Poloto who used to emphatically push Dan Male's team to glory.
Kibuli, winners on ten occasions, has been relying on KCCA striker Sadat Anaku and Moses Aliro – not showing game command, aggressiveness and killer instincts that have over the years made them a force to reckon with.
The two 1-1 draws with Nakaseke and Buddo in the group over the weekend was a bold statement that Kibuli had had kissed the 25-year-ol tourney goodbye despite winning 9-0 against Sebei.
It was visible in the draws between Nakaseke and Buddo that the two schools played with an open joint intention to get Kibuli out of the tourney.
Kibuli won their opening two games scoring nine goals against none, but convincing losses to Ryakasinga and Nakaseke, followed by botched appeals, meant that Male's team, relying on Sadat Anaku and Umar Kyebatala's goals, lived on dangerously.
Kibuli were last ejected in the group stages in 2013 in the Kabale tourney before they bounced back to win the tourney the following year under the guidance of Abdallah Mubiru. But their record will remain intact for now as only Kitende, with 8 titles, can only make it nine. Then again, even Kitende are not at their best this campaign and will need Lady Luck to smile their way to become victorious.
The trophy has been shared amongst 9 schools. The others are; Kibuli (10), Kitende (8), Old Kampala (2), Buddo, Jinja SS, Nankyama, Ngabo, Lubiri and St Leo’s Kyegobe.
The nadir of Kibuli's degenerating performance in the annual secondary schools tourney was last month when they invaded the semifinal between Old Kampala Vs Kawempe Muslim at Namboole. Led by their teachers, the players stormed the Namboole outside pitch (the other semifinal – Lubiri SS 0-5 Kakungulu Memorial – meanwhile went on in the inside pitch) protesting that Kololo SSS had used an unregistered student on the team album.
Police arrived in time to calm the angry students and their games master Abdul Nantalya but the damage had already been done.
The Kampala District schools football organizing committee comprising of Derrick Sserunkuma (chairman), Adolf Ntege (secretary), Abbey Ssentongo (Finance), Ayub Khalifa (Committee member)and Katumba Wamala (member) then decided to grant Kibuli a bye, a decision that has been brutally exposed and their integrity left in question.
A: Kimaanya, Mbarara
B: Jinja SS, Welden
C: St Julian, St Paul
D: JIPRA, Lira TC
E: Buddo, Ryakasinga
F: Kitende, Hill View
G: Hands of Grace, Old Kampala
H: Kigezi, Agape
St Peter’s Hoima 1-2 Kimaanya
Bp Negri 1-0 Kamwenge
Welden 5-1 Green Valley
Masaka SS 0-2 Jinja SS
Standard Zzana 0-2 Agape
Kibuli 9-0 Sebei College
Nakaseke 1-1 Buddo
Kitende 5-0 Hope