History awaits either Kitara or NEC

Kitara FC striker Brian Aheebwa battling with NEC FC defenders in the Uganda Premier League | Sports Lens Image

Stanbic Uganda Cup: History awaits either Kitara or NEC

Brian Aheebwa 16:16 - 24.05.2024

By reaching the 2024 Stanbic Uganda Cup final, Kitara FC and NEC FC already made history because it is the first time they are both achieving the fit.

Qualifying for the final as Uganda Premier League newbies makes the story even more compelling.

Action between NEC and Kitara at Lugogo

During the 2023/24 campaign, NEC were playing in the topflight for the first time whilst Kitara were in for the second time.

The position each team managed, respectively, surprised many with the Royals competing for the title all season long taking it down to the wire with the likes of Vipers SC, BUL FC, and the eventual champions SC Villa.

Kitara would settle for the fourth position which was within their seasonal target of finishing in the top five, anyway.

Kitara FC striker Jude Ssemugabi will be one of the players the Royals will depend on against NEC

They will feel disappointed having had moments where everyone had started believing that they were going to actually clinch the championship but on the other hand they will look back at their journey and embrace it with pride because they really overachieved.

Similarly, NEC should also pull out their champagne already after emerging sixth, taking points off some giants like Kitara, KCCA FC, Vipers, URA FC, Express FC, and BUL.

NEC's Rashid Okocha and Cromwell Rwothomio celebrating a goal against Kitara

When the Royals and the Diehards take to the stage at the Muteesa II Stadium, Wankulukuku on Saturday, May 25, they will dare each other for the icing on the cake.

It has been a historic season for both sides already and whoever wins the 50th edition of the Uganda Cup should be deserving.

Enroute to the final, they all encountered tricky opponents at some point with Kitara having to eliminate nine-time winners Villa and holders Vipers in the round of 16 and quarterfinals, respectively.

NEC and Kitara defeated each other once apiece in the league

“We have played NEC twice this season and won one game and lost the other so we shall be facing a good team in them and it will not be easy,” Kitara head coach Brian Ssenyondo said in a press conference.

“But we have played and challenged a number of good teams as well to reach this stage and I am confident we shall put up a good fight to win the Cup,” he added.

On the other hand, the 2022 winners BUL and last year’s losing finalists Police FC were NEC’s opponents in the respective stages.

Left to Right: Denis Omedi, Marvin Kavuma, Hussein Mbalangu, and Brian Ssenyondo

“We have not had a straight forward path ourselves and we also know how strong the opposition will be and the magnitude of the game thus we shall have to work hard to win the Cup,” NEC head coach Hussein Mbalangu stated.

“I am not under any sort of pressure because I have won the trophy as a player and also reached several finals as a coach especially in Somalia.”

Unlike his counterpart, Mbalangu has won the Uganda Cup before as a player in 2000 with Villa.

Each of Mbalangu and Ssenyondo will be seeking a first Uganda Cup as manager

Both teams have exciting players who can spark a great performance to land the holy grail but all eyes will be on Denis Omedi for Kitara who scored 15 league goals only two behind KCCA’s Muhammad Shaban who was the top scorer.

Joseph Dhata who is the competition’s leading goal scorer with six goal will miss the game due to accumulation of yellow cards - two.

Therefore, Mbalangu will be counting on striker Cromwell Rwothomio who netted nine league goals.

Denis Omedi scored 15 league goals

It is worth noting that NEC goalkeeper Benjamin Ochan has won the Uganda Cup before with KCCA in 2017.

Kitara’s attacking midfielder Paul Mucureezi has also won it previously with KCCA and Vipers, he lifted it twice with the Kasasiro Boys in 2017 and 2018, his third was with the Venoms in 2021.

It is also important to know that KCCA and Express are the joint record holders of the Uganda Cup with 10 trophies apiece.

Brian Ssenyondo has become a popular figure and he is a step away from writing history

The competition’s official sponsors Stanbic Bank will reward the winner with UGX 50M and UGX 25M will go the first runners up.

Continental football also awaits the winner in the 2024/25 campaign in the CAF Confederation Cup.