*EYES ON SAVIMBI, SSEKILIME, MAFABI, ABAHAIRWE, MUGABO, SSEMUKWAANO AND EPODOI; AS EASTERN UGANDA CUES OFF THE NATIONAL OPEN REGIONAL FINALS
The long wait for the Nile Special National open Regional finals is over. This weekend, 18 players from 6 districts will book slots in the prestigious Grand finale.
Close to 8,000 players have participated in the mini qualifiers at 320 venues in 53 districts across the country. Each regional qualifying center will be composed of 32 players from 8 different venues which will have supplied 4 players who qualified. The 32 will be randomly drawn into straight knock out matches from the first round to the final. Both finalists will qualify in 1st and 2nd positions respectively, while the losing semi finalists will play off to determine the player who qualifies in 3rd position.
There will be 6 regional qualifying tournaments; all in Eastern Uganda- broken down as follows.
*Nature Gardens- Soroti*
Soroti will be host to 32 of the best players who have qualified from the region including players from Katakwi, Moroto and Soroti itself. Notable participants include Samuel Oiko, Samuel Ecumu, Tom Ebulu, Vincent Atiaku, as well as Moroto’s finest – David Oguli. They will expect stiff competition from Dr Joseph Epodoi; a seasoned qualifier who has somewhat balanced playing pool with Excellence in Medicine- officially Uganda’s best surgeon after successfully separating Siamese twins for the first time in Ug. There won’t be a clear favorite; but it will be very competitive.
*The Oak Bar & Restaurant – Mbale*
The Eastern capital will also be host to 32 more shooters from in and around Mbale and Kapchorwa districts. Mbale’s finest shooter Abdul Mafabi will be a clear favorite for the win; but he won’t have it all his way. He can be knocked out before the semis; especially if he is drawn against the likes of Rashid Wanade “Helicopter”, Veteran player Modi Edward, John Bosco Kibeti or seasoned Qualifier Eddy Ojakol- a DJ of the qualifying venue.
Lugazi’s finest shooter Jonathan “Savimbi” Ouma will have his work cut out; trying to qualify for the first time to the grand finale. Another equally good shooter Arnold Ssemukwaano will be attempting to qualify at the same Venue. The 2 were part of the Mbale Pool club league winning team of last year. Things could be interesting if the don’t avoid each other on the draws chart. Seasoned Qualifier Ronald Lugolobi is expected to give them the toughest competition.
*Sol View- Iganga*
For tactical reasons, Ug Seed no.12- Patrick Ssekilime walked away from Mukono to qualify from Iganga. He will be a big favorite for the win; given his skill-set. 2-time Iganga regional winner Kiwanuka George will be his toughest competition; especially if the 2 are drawn at the same side of the chart. Veteran League player Albert Mujunga will be competing too; and has what it takes to shock the big 2.
*The Bourbon – Jinja*
Stiff competition is expected as players are too used and familiar to each other courtesy of the many different times they face off in other competitions. I however pick out 4 stand out names; courtesy of their previous achievement and current form. Mugabo Eric; a key member of the Ronz 2016 league winning team stands tallest; with Arafat “Assasin” Galuganda expected to provide the best competition to him. Akwi Eric has of late emerged as one of the best players in the district too. Veteran player Wasswa Peace will also have an outside chance to return to the Red carpet.
*Da Place- Tororo*
Tororo will round up the weekend’s mini qualification with the best participants from neighboring Malaba, Busia and Tororo itself. As long as the draw can favor them, League players Bruce Abahairwe and Steven Orena will be favorites to qualify.
*This Friday 11th August*
♦️NATURE GARDENS – SOROTI
♦️DA PLACE- TORORO
♦️THE OAK BAR AND RESTAURANT – MBALE
*Saturday 12th August.*
♦️SOL VIEW – IGANGA
♦️THE BOURBONE – JINJA
♦️FRIENDS ‘ CORNER- MBIKKO.
_On top of qualification, the regional winner will receive a 100,000 shs Cash prize and 50,000 shs for the first Runner up. The losing finalists will play off to determine the 3rd position. The Top 3 will receive Branded T-shirts at the Grand finale._