The football party shall continue late into curfew time in Arua, following a throbbing derby that despite failing to produce any goals, lived up to the expectations with the quality of performance and display of passion and drama during the occasion.
Onduparaka and Arua Hill met for the first time ever in the StarTimes Uganda Premier League at the Barifa Stadium on Tuesday afternoon, in a game where both sides were guilty of lacking a clinical finish.
There were plenty of chances for either side as they went all out in search for victory and the bragging rights, but by the time referee Ronald Madanda blew for the final whistle, they could not be separated, playing to a goalless draw.
Muhamad Shaban, Alfred Leku, Samuel Ssekamatte all had good opportunities to find the back of the net for either side but they squandered their opportunities.
The stalemate means that Arua Hill extend their unbeaten run to 16 games from the Big League and are yet to concede a goal in the top division.
Following their 1-0 victory over UPDF over the weekend, Onduparaka started with energy and intent. Shaban briefly robbed possession from Muhammad Rashid and did well to set up his teammates, but they failed to test Richard Anyama in the Arua Hill goal.
As Onduparaka continued in their stride, the game was halted after seven minutes for close to 30 minutes after a section of the perimeter fence went down under pressure from the fans that had been allowed into the stadium.
No one was hurt in the process, but the referee called off both teams as the fans came too close to the pitch and threatened to interfere with play.
While the fans did not mean any harm to the officials and players, Onduparaka players briefly refused to resume the game claiming that they did not feel entirely safe with fans so close to the pitch.
A procession of uniformed troops and police were called into action as they tried to push back the crowd, before finding means of repairing the broken fence before both teams agreed to resume action.
It took close to 15 minutes for Arua Hill to get to grips with the game, Leku signalling their arrival with a low shot that drew a fine save from goalkeeper Micheal Kagiri.
Kagiri spilled the shot and with Robert Eseru lurking for the rebound, defender Isaac Okello did well to clear the danger for a corner kick.
Wayward finishing was common from either sides. Joseph Vuni headed over the bar from Gadaffi Wahab’s freekick, but the Leopards’ best chance fell to Ssekamatte whose lob over Kagiri bounced wide of the target.
Shaban wore his heart on his sleeve throughout the game, and used his pace to drive the team forward on occasions and almost had the Caterpillars ahead after 35 minutes.
Mansur Safi’s cross from the left was deflected over Anyama, but Muhammad Rashid bravely won an aerial contest against the striker yards only yards away from the goal line.
Onduparaka started the second half with the same purpose, Emmanuel Oketch finding space down the left win. Shaban and Oketch combined but the latter’s shot at an angle was turned behind by Anyama.
Shaban also had a low shot find the side netting moments before Safi’s low drive was saved by Anyama as anticipation for a late goal grew.
With five minutes remaining, second half substitute Gabriel Matata almost gave Ondu a grandstand finish following a goal melee, but his shot was blocked by a teammate with the goalkeeper beaten.
With spoils shared in the end, there was one last invasion on the pitch as the fans took the party to the playing surface to celebrate the start of what could be a long and prosperous rivalry in the region.
How both teams lined up:
Arua Hill SC XI: Richard Anyama, Alfred Leku, Robert Eseru, Joseph Vuni, Richard Matovu, Muhammad Rashid, Ibrahim Faizul, Ibrahim Magandazi, Wahab Gaddafi, Samuel Sekamate, David Ndihabwe.
Onduparaka FC XI: Kagiri Michael, Gasper Adriko, Okocha Rashid, Ivan Okello, Isaac Okello, Dudu Ramadan, Abasi Kateregga, Mansur Safi, Shaban Muhammad, Okech Emmanuel, Agau Rashid.
StarTimes Uganda Premier League Results
Arua Hill 0-0 Onduparaka FC
BUL FC 0-1 Express
Tooro United 1-1 Gaddafi
Police FC 0-1 Wakiso Giants
UPDF Vs Mbarara City (postponed)