The 2020 Airtel Masaza Cup final on Saturday at St Mary’s Stadium Kitende was like no other. For the first time, there were no fans to the most attended football tournament in Uganda while the Kabaka of Buganda, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, missed officiating at the final for the first time since 2004.
Thanks to a first half scoring spurt that featured four goals in the opening 17 minutes, Gomba won 3-1 to lift their fifth trophy before a stadium with only invited guests in attendance.
The two sides played out a 1-1 draw in the group games, but the final was an open affair though not open enough for Buddu to add to their single trophy won in 2016 – incidentally, against Gomba.
“I am happy for the response,” said Gomba head coach Ibrahim Kirya, who won his first Masaza Cup medal. “I am really happy for our players because they put a lot of effort throughout the campaign and they were able to get a return on it,” added Kirya, who is assistant to Edward Kaziba at SC Villa.
It took Gomba only two minutes to break the seal through Charles Bbaale with his eighth goal to emerge top scorer.
Titus Ssematimba answered back with a header off a corner in the eighth minute but a ruthless Gomba regained their lead through defender George Kaddu’s thunderous free-kick.
Fred Gift drilled in the third in the 17th minute after a goalmouth melee before caution set in for the rest of the game.
Gomba had to hold their own after combative midfielder Fred Atuhwera’s was sent off.
Buddu coach Michael Lukyamuzi said the team played well but did not have enough energy to overcome a defensive Gomba that relied on counter attacks.
“We made some mistakes. It is hard to win when you give up some chances easily. We have to learn from them [the mistakes],” Lukyamuzi said.
In the classification game, goalkeeper Adadi Mutumba parried away Rogers Ssebyodya’s attempt during the spotkicks to help Busiro beat 2019 champions Bulemeezi 5-3 after a goalless draw.
Kabaka Mutebi who was in Nairobi in September 2020 to pay a courtesy call to Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, was reported to be attending a high-level meeting over the weekend.
Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga said post-match that the meeting was both urgent and important.
“The visitors were in Nairobi and they could not come it to Kampala yet the meeting had for long been planned only that it coincided with the finals of the Masaza Cup,” Mayiga said.
The Kabaka is always the focus of the Masaza Cup finals as he commissions at the opening and closing ceremonies. With Covid-19 restrictions, it was feared by some subjects that he would not attend a final without fans although he opened the games in December at the Fufa Technical Centre, Njeru where 38 games were held in a bubble setting.
Winners since 2004