WANKULUKUKU – Express FC were eliminated from the 2018/19 Uganda Cup on Thursday afternoon by fellow StarTimes Uganda Premier League side Bright Stars.
The Red Eagles who have not won anything since 2012, failed to capitalize on home advantage as they drew 1-1 with the Stars, meaning the tie ended 2-2 on Aggregate and required penalty shootouts which the visitors won.
Captain John Revita put Express ahead inside three minutes from a free kick which was poorly judged by Hamza Muwonge in the Bright Stars goal.
With only 10 minutes to play, substitute James Angu equalized for the visitors to send the game into sudden-death.
In the shoot outs, Express missed three of their five penalties as Michael Birungi, Davis Mayanja and young star Sadiq Ssekyembe could not beat Muwonge. Only Disan Galiwango and Revita found the back of the net from 12 yards.
Having missed only two of their first four kicks, Bright Stars captain Nelson Ssenkatuka stepped up and converted what proved to be the winner to send the Mwerere based side into their first ever final while for Express, the wait for a major title goes into its 8th year.
“I think the team put out a good performance but the only issue is that we did not score our penalties, said Express FC head coach George Ssemwogerere in his post-match interview.
“We came here wanting to score a goal and we did but unfortunately they equalized late and then during the shoot-outs, we were let down by the senior players.
“We now have to wait for next year as we continue our quest for a title.
After the game, it was learnt from someone on the Red Eagles technical team that Tony Odur, the club’s primary penalty taker, deliberately refused to take any of the penalties during the pulsating shootout.
Odur has been the penalty taker throughout the season, converting four penalties.
Ssemwogerere who was on the Uganda Cup winning team for Express on several occasions also came out and emphasized that not winning this year’s crown should be least of the club’s worry but they should concentrate on building a side that is capable of challenging both for the League and Cup.
“Not winning this year is not a problem to us, our target is supposed to be building a team that can challenge on all fronts, stated the lanky coach.
“The other thing is working on the small details like who will be taking free kicks and penalties so that today’s scenario doesn’t happen again.
About his brief time at the club so far, Ssemwogerere was quick to claim he is not a miracle worker like most think.
“I have been here for two months and you can’t expect me to change so many things like i have been in charge for 10 years.
“We will just continue trying to play good football so as we reach where we want to be. eventually.
After the game, disgruntled Express fans tried to attack Ssemwogerere but the security that was provided on the day saved him, escorting him out of Wankulukuku.
The fans who were not satisfied with how their team performed on the day and throughout Ssemwogerere’s reign came out and asked their former Captain to immediately step down, claiming he is not the right person to take the team forward.
When asked whether he will still be at Express next season, Ssemwogerere was quick to claim that he will unless the person who employed him terminates his contract.
“The fans cannot ask me to leave the job because they are not the ones who employed.
“Someone else did and unless be asks me to step down, i will stay here as the coach.
Ssemwogerere has been in charge of Express since February when he replaced Kefa Kisala in the wake of the club’s 2-0 home loss against Police FC.
Under him, the Red Eagles have played 17 League and Cup games, winning 7, drawing 5 and losing 5.
In the League, Ssemwogerere has overseen only five victories in 13 games, losing 5 and drawing the other three.
Whether Simlala like he is commonly know in the football circles, stays at Wankulukuku remains to be seen but with the fan unrest growing by the day, it may be a matter of time before the former Red Eagles’s captain is shown the exit.