Ssebuguzi’s day as Kisaakye breaks drought

The PAu Grand Open women medallists Victoria Namuyanja, Marion Kisakye and Amina Faith Nganda pose for a group photo on Sunday. PHOTO/GEORGE KATONGOLE 

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Ssebuguzi’s win came albeit the absence of top seeds Caesar Chandiga, Ibrahim Sejjemba and Rashid ‘Dog City’ Wagaba, who are away in China where they had gone to play in the lucrative JOY Heyball World Tour.

For quite so long, Habib Ssebuguzi has been hailed as one of the most complete players, yet victory continued to elude him.

He would break the duck during the three-day PAU Grand Open over the weekend, overcoming a field of 128 eager players to win the first ranking event of the year at L’Amour Bar and Lounge in Kansanga.

Ssebuguzi beat defending champion Joseph Kasozi 9-4. Kasozi took a three-frame lead but several unforced errors left him in a nasty position as he would only win one frame in the 10 frames that earned Ssebuguzi the victory.

Ssebuguzi’s win came albeit the absence of top seeds Caesar Chandiga, Ibrahim Sejjemba and Rashid ‘Dog City’ Wagaba, who are away in China where they had gone to play in the lucrative JOY Heyball World Tour.

“I think even if they were around and Allah had prepared this victory for me, I would have won. I am happy that I am champion and this is a stepping stone for me ahead of the other events,” Ssebuguzi, the Pool Cranes captain, said.

Although talk was about the absence of Chandiga, the main attraction was 13-year-old Junior Asiku, who was eliminated in the last 16 by former Seed One Mansoor Bwanika 6-3. Asiku, who last week, won two weekly competitions at Amigos in Nabutiti (Kansanga), also paired up with Bob Kateregga before they were eliminated in the semis by Kasozi and Nayiga.  

Kisaakye breaks through

The ladies champion saw Marion Kisaakye (Ankah Sheila) toasted to her first trophy in any Pau-organised event beating her closest friend and Pool Cranes teammate Victoria Namuyanja 6-5.

It was a victory worthy of celebration as Kisaakye came from 5-2 down to be announced champion as time elapsed on Namuyanja in the race to eight final.

“It’s been so long. But I have been training so hard and I am happy. I am now looking at winning the National Open,” said Kisaakye, who finished third in the Nile Special National Open, last year.

For Namuyanja, the waiting goes on as her last individual win came in 2019 during the Independence Day Cup.

Kisaakye beat surprise package Rashida Nansasi 5-1 in a lopsided semifinal while Namuyanja controversially eliminated National Team captain Amina Faith Nganda 6-5.

PAU Grand Pool Open ladies winner Ankah Sheila lines up to sink a yellow ball during the finals against Vicky Namuyanja (not in picture) at L'Amour  Bar and Lounge. PHOTO/EDDIE CHICCO

As Nganda snookered Namuyanja in what would have yielded a foul, the umpire accidentally touched the cue ball but seemed to have placed it in a more direct way that allowed Namuyanja to pot the black. Nganda aborted the game and would be seen weeping over the unfair situation. But she recovered in time to win the third place.

Towards inclusion

The first ever in Ugandan pool, saw Dr Innocent Achaye win the championship with Patrick Ssengendo coming second. Other participants included Fredrick Ssemakula and James Mwanje, who came third and fourth respectively in the round-robin competition.

While pool tables aren't set up to meet the needs of people with different physical abilities, Ssengendo said the experience was worth it.

"This is an eye-opener of the great things pool can provide. It's an inclusive sport and we are excited to be part of the big family," Ssengendo said.

Disabled players however, will need to acquire adaptive equipment to help them hold pool cues firmly.

"It's all about starting and when we get more numbers we shall have to work on the challenge of the equipment," said Donald Ampumuza, the sport's Technical Director.

For the first time, the pool association organised the exciting doubles as a subsidiary event with Masaka’s best player Glorious Ssenyonjo and Ibrahim Kayanja defeating Joseph Kasozi and Rukia Nayiga in speed pool to determine the winner after the game went into a 7-7 draw.

PAU Grand Open

Category winners

Men: H. Ssebuguzi bt. J. Kasozi 9-4

Women: M. Kisaakye bt. V. Namuyanja 6-5

PwDs: Dr Innocent Achaye

Doubles: G. Ssenyonjo/I. Kayanja