Caeser Manzoki’s double sent Vipers SC to the Stanbic Uganda Cup final after they showed a unique blend of guile and determination to beat Police 2-0 on Tuesday afternoon.
In what was the first competitive game for both sides since football was suspended in the country in June, the Venoms were on top of the game for large spells and should have had a bigger score on the day.
Vipers, under new coach Roberto Oliviera who was taking charge of his first game at the club burst into the game and had several goalscoring chances but Police goalkeeper Tom Ikara stood big.
Ikara was struggling with an injury early on, and Police were without a substitute goalkeeper on the bench as the tournament regulations allowed only licensed players from the 2020/21 season to take part, he had to soldier on.
Even with his heroics, Ikara could do as much to stop Vipers from taking the lead, and in the the 20th minute, Manzoki robbed defender Hassan Muhamood of possession before slotting the ball below Ikara.
The Cops could have no complaints of the result of the game after 45 minutes, as they rarely troubled Fabian Mutombora in the Vipers goal who was protected by an outstanding defence led by Livingstone Mulondo and Bashir Asiku.
Police coach Abdallah Mubiru made two changes at the start of the second half, withdrawing Duncan Sseninde and Ruben Kimera for Brian Muluuli and Tony Kyamera.
Mubiru’s men had their first real opportunity of the game after 50 minutes, captain Tony Mawejje’s low drive forcing Mutombora into a fine low stop.
Three minutes later, Vipers doubled their lead, Manzoki again powering a low shot past Ikara at the near post from Bobosi Byaruhanga’s through ball.
The Cops had another chance to pull a goal back, after Mubarak Nsubuga’s run down the flanks set up Mawejje who hesitated on shooting before Vipers recovered to clear the danger.
Vipers poured forward yet again, but Ikara who was wobbly at this moment denied Yunus Ssentamu at close range before Dan Sserunkuuma was denied by the woodwork as it capped off a great performance for the 2016 Uganda Cup champions.
Vipers now waits for the winner between Express FC and BUL who face off in the other semi-final on Thursday, September 24.
The final for the 2021 Uganda Cup will be played on Sunday, September 26.
How both teams lined up
Vipers SC XI: Fabien Mutombora (GK), Paul Willa (c), Disan Ggaliwango, Bashir Asiku, Livingstone Mulondo, Sirajje Ssentamu, Bobosi Byaruhanga, David Bagole, Milton Karisa, Ceasor Manzoki, Yunus Sentamu
Substitutions: Kiggundu (GK), Okao, Paul Mucureezi, Dan Sserunkuuma, Aziz Kayondo, Karim Watambala, Ibrahim Orit
Police FC XI: Tom Ikara (GK), Hassan Muhamood, George Kiryowa, Eric Ssenjobe, Samuel Kayongo, Ruben Kimera, Duncan Seninde, Tonny Mawejje (c), Muwadda Mawejje, Herman Wasswa, Yusuf Ssozi
Substitutions: Brian Muruuli, Tony Kiwalaze, Fahad Kizito, Mubarak Nsubuga, Arnold Ssembuya