On a day that remained gloomy throughout the game, it was bound to end up into sad moment for Uganda Premier League champions KCCA FC after their dream of playing in this year’s Caf Champions League group stages was shattered.
Having held the visitors to a barren draw, a fortnight ago in Angola, KCCA FC thought they would finish off the job at home in Kampala but as the saying goes, their dream was so near and yet so far as for the second time, they failed to reach the Caf Champions League group stages after being held to a one-all draw by Petro de Luanda on Friday.
The Ugandan representatives were assured of at least $550,000, an equivalent of two billion shillings had they qualified to the group stages of the most prestigious club tournament on the continent but all this remained a dream that was never fulfilled.
Despite threatening the visitors’ goal in the opening minutes of the game, their chances went begging and they were later punished for not killing off these prized assets early enough.
With 10 minutes to the end of the first stanza, Petro de Luanda striker Isaac Mensah was brought down in the 18-yard box by KCCA FC goalkeeper cum captain, Charles Lukwago for the centre referee to point to the spot.
The resultant spot kick by the visitors’ captain, Ricardo Estavo sent their small number of fans at the stadium into frenzy as their team took the lead at Lugogo and finished the first half in the driving seat of the game.
The second stanza was going to be a do or die moment for the Kasasiro boys and to show this, Mike Mutebi made a number of changes that saw Sadat Anaku and Simon Sserunkuuma introduced to the pitch.
In the 57th minute, that moment that everyone was waiting for came when Mustafa Kiiza scored off a Sadat Anaku assist to breath life into the KCCA FC team, but also ensured the team fans were singing again at the StarTimes stadium at Lugogo.
Side of rookies
On a day that KCCA FC had a number of rookies replacing experienced players like Timothy Awany, Patrick Kaddu and Allan Kyambadde who left the club for greener pastures, the team had little or nothing to do against the experienced Angolans.
With the likes of Peter Magambo, Samuel Kato, Filbert Ochan and Herbert Achai all rookies at this stage, it was only a matter of time that KCCA FC could not match the experienced fellas from Luanda.
At the end of the day, just in 2016, KCCA FC was eliminated out of the Caf Champions League at their home soil following a one-all draw.
Petro de Luanda progressed on away goals’ rule.
The Ugandan representatives were however sent to the Caf Confederation Cup.
Speaking about the game, Mike Mutebi praised his players for putting up a spirited fight against the Angolans, despite being knocked out.
“We are disappointed that we didn’t go to the group stages but we played well and created more chances than them and that cannot be taken away. I am comfortable we have another chance to stay on the continent,”Mutebi said shortly after the game.
Praises his “rookies”
The KCCA FC gaffer as his nom , did not go without praising his youngsters for putting up a spirited fight and insisted he will keep faith in them, no matter what.
“There were issues during the game but those are the things you can excuse as kids are learning. I am very fine with the performance. We continued playing to force ourselves so as to win the game but unfortunately we didn’t,”Mutebi said.