Only is such a daunting adverb but while there is “only one,” there can never be “only zero” and that is the lesson Kawempe Muslim and Uganda Martyrs High School, Lubaga, learnt the hard way when they couldn’t get only one goal as their opponents.
Lady Doves and Uganda Christian University (UCU) respectively beat Kawempe and Uganda Martyrs 1-0 to make it to the final of the Fufa Women Super League that climaxes tomorrow at Fufa Technical Centre in Njeru.
The two sides have now established a new order in local women’s football as they also made the finals in 2019, when the Fufa Women Elite League (FWEL) was still the topflight division.
Textbook pays off
They have put Kawempe’s dominance over women’s football under threat. The four-time champions seemed ready to win back their championship last year but the inaugural FWSL was suspended over Covid-19 disruptions.
But it would not be strange to argue that Kawempe, who have never won the knockout Fufa Women Cup since its inception in 2017, are stoppable in one-off encounters, where teams can get away with being conservative for 90 minutes.
Indeed, Doves employed this approach with their midfield enforcer Riticia Nabbosa feeding long balls to Ikwaput until the latter was kicked in the knee by Samalie Nakacwa in the 5th minute, forcing her to hobble off in the 21st minute.
Doves then sat back completely till luck struck. With Kawempe in ascendency in the additional minutes of the first half, the referee called back play.
As Kawempe protested the call, Nabbosa saw a chance to settle the game and quickly executed a freekick from about 40 yards, catching Kawempe keeper Juliet Adeke off-guard and scoring the goal that sent the Masindi-side to their second straight topflight final.
She ran straight to the bench to pay homage to Ikwaput, who had “urged me to take responsibility and take the team to the final.”
The goal was straight from the 2019 history book, when Nabbosa – after moving from Olila where she won that 2017 Cup with her ‘football twin’ Ikwaput – scored to eliminate Kampala Queens in the semi-finals in Lugogo.
Kawempe’s continued surge did not bear fruits as Doves’ keeper Daisy Nakaziro, who also tormented Kawempe as a Muteesa I Royal University player in the 2017 Cup, stood tall between the sticks.
“We started well but the referee killed the rhythm of play. We conceded a goal from a foul that I think wasn’t there and it killed our transition because they reacted fast and scored. We tried to get back into the game but we were a bit unlucky,” Kawempe coach Moses Nkata bemoaned as his side lost to Doves for a second time in four meetings since the latter came to the topflight in 2018.
His opposite Rajab Buyinza said they had a Plan B to play without Ikwaput, who draws in a lot of tackles.
“We had a second plan to manage games in situations where Fazilah is absent because we knew that she would be a target of several teams. Otherwise, we thank God for the luck that enabled us win the game because they are not an easy opponent,” Buyinza said.
Nkata denied targeting the player, who is a doubt for the final, claiming she “landed badly and could have worsened a previous injury.”
Meanwhile, the other semi-final was a sixth meeting between UCU and UMHS.
UCU, who are peppered with experience with over five players that were present when the women’s league started in 2014, have now won four of those encounters – thanks again to Jauhara Nabagala’s 15th minute goal.
“We started our preps late so all we were working for was to qualify for the finals. We’ve done that by improving our performance in every game and we can now focus on winning the trophy,” captain Hasifah Nassuna, said.
Nabagala will hope that she has returned on the score-sheet with the lucky charm, as her hitherto only competitive goal was against UMHS in a 1-0 win in that 2018/19 season in which UCU eventually won their lone league title.
They beat Doves 2-0 in that final. Tomorrow presents an opportunity for Doves to settle the score or for UCU, who make the final in every odd year since 2017, to establish their dominance.
Additionally, there is a place in next month’s Cecafa regional qualifiers for the inaugural Caf Women’s Champions League at stake.