JINJA- St Mary’s SS Kitende are on course to win their ninth trophy as the Copa Coca-Cola Schools Cup enters the knockout stages today.
With the draws dramatically delaying following several petitions, the eight-time winners now with the tag of favourites firmly glued to their jerseys hope to prove the credentials.
After a nervy 1-1 draw Mbarara High on Monday when they conceded just their second goal at the tournament, coach Dan Male warned that although anything is possible, they will go for gold.
The Wakiso District side boasts of the best talent on show with U-17 starlets Nagib Yiga, Ivan Asaba, and Andrew Kawooya, they assembled a side precisely expected to go all the way without any limits to its ambitions. Kitende’s billing as favourites should not take anything away from the fact that Jinja SS are a formidable outfit, perfectly capable of outdoing the eight time winners.
Head coach Hassan Zungu builds his team around the experience of Vincent Zziwa, leading scorer Lawrence Tezikya, Isma Mugulusi, Edrine Mukisa as well as U-17 star Delton Oyo. Zungu is aware that home advantage is crucial as record crowds have turned up for their games. He says this will be a positive factor in deciding their destiny. The 2017 champions and here, they are lauded for being the most talented home team.
“It is exciting for the players to play in front of a home crowd. Those people are their family and friends,” said Zungu.
Apart from Kitende and Kibuli, who have won the title eight times each since 1993, Jinja SS, Buddo, Lubiri, Old Kampala, Bp Nankyama, Ngabo, Naggalama and St Leo’s Kyegobe are the other winners of the prestigious trophy, dubbed the Schools World Cup.
Though home will be an advantage, Zungu is wary of the strong opposition.
“The quality of players in this Copa Coca-Cola is very high. It’s been very competitive so far but it should be a good test to players we want to promote to the senior team.”
COPA COCA COLA TOURNAMENT
ROUND OF 16 MATCH UPS
Masaka vs. Bulo (9am, Kakindu)
Buddo vs. Uganda Martyrs (9am, Jinja SS)
Royal Giants vs. Nakaseke (11am, Kakindu)
Standard High vs. Kawempe (11am, Jinja SS)
Kitende vs. St Kaggwa (2pm, Jinja SS)
Kitovu vs. St John’s (2pm, Kakindu)
Jipra vs. Kibuli (4pm, Jinja SS)
Jinja SS vs. St Julian (4pm, Kakindu)