Express Football Club is safe from any relegation concerns, at least for this season.
The Red Eagles out-muscled a hard battling Masavu 1-0 at the lake side Fisheries Training Institute play ground in Bugonga on the final day of the 2017/18 Uganda Premier League. Gangly striker Alfred Leku struck the all-important goal for the visiting side in a tense, exciting duel watched by a capacity crowd.
Leku expertly finished past goalkeeper Salim Wekiya in the 58th minute after defender Sulaiman Ochero mis-kicked a Davis Mayanja teasing ball.
Before the game, it had been largely an end to end affair with the two sides huffing and puffing. Earlier, Ayubu Kisaliita blasted over the bar a glorious goal-scoring golden chance in the 20th minute following a beautiful cut-back from the pacy Michael Birungi on the left wing.
Midfielder David Mayanja had two opportunities blocked by the hard working Masavu defence.
After a goal-less opening stanza of the game, the game was lit up with Leku’s goal, coming 13 minutes into the second half to send the hundreds of traveling fans into excitement.
Masavu had limited chances in the closing half, and at one stage appealed for two penalties from ball to hand incidents as the pressure grew. The day’s center referee, William Oloya turned down the penalty shouts.
There was excitement in the stands mid-way the second half when news filtered through, that Proline had conceded an equalizer and later were a goal down.
The final whistle was greeted with wild celebrations. Fans even broke down the wire mesh perimeter fence as they raced towards their heroes – players and officials. Head coach Shafik Bisaso and the goal hero, Leku were carried aloft in celebrations.
Fans danced, sang songs of praise and exhilaration, for they had survived being relegated to the FUFA Big League.
There was also a lap of honour around the Bugonga play ground before the fans interacted with the club chairperson Hajji Hassan Bulwadda.
“We have always prepared well but at times unfortunate to lose. Today, the players were determined from the first minute to the last. It is great that we have survived” sighed Technical director George “Best” Nsimbe.
Express thus ends the season with 31 points in 13th place.
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In other matches played on the same day, Vipers humbled UPDF 4-1 to be crowned champions for this season at the St Mary’s Stadium. Vipers thus won their third championship following earlier successes in 2010 and 2015.
KCCA rallied from a goal down to make amends during their two all draw with Police at Mandela National Stadium. Mike Mutebi’s charges finished second with 61 points.
Third placed SC Villa Jogoo lost 1-0 at home to Jinja side, BUL and Onduparaka smiled to a 2-0 home win against Bright Stars in Arua.
Meanwhile, Soana earned a point with Maroons during the non-scoring draw at Kavumba.
URA recovered from a goal down to condemn Proline 2-1 at the Star Times Stadium, Lugogo.
Mbarara City lost to visiting Kirinya-Jinja S.S 2-0 at the Kakyeka stadium.
UPDF, Proline and Masavu are all relegated to the FUFA Big league.