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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The first quarterfinal bout is here


Zambia's copper belt University put up a lovely fight, coming from down and showing University of Sierra Leone the exit in last Sunday’s Zain Africa Challenge. Who would have thought! I mean the Sierra Leonean trio of Songor, Jimmy Smith and Abubaka came with a conspicuous attitude that was difficult to miss.

Jimmy was spotting dark glasses and looking “bad” while Songor’s big-rimmed glasses, assuredness and physical stature reminded me of the nutty professor without a potbelly! And quite frankly, they knew their stuff; from country names and African current affairs to sports, they seemed to know it all and dominated all the three rounds.
The Lusaka boys looked a little higgledy-piggledy but in an adorable sort of way. And they knew their stuff too and didn’t at all lag with a huge margin. In fact, by the end of the third round, Sierra Leone was leading them by only 40 points which is really nothing before the Ultimate Challenge.

Indeed it was in the Ultimate Challenge that their tact, true competence and elegance shone through; for they knew they would negotiate the “N is for Africa” category, and did effortlessly, netting 450 points out of 500 and bringing their grand total to 680 points.

It dealt a cruel blow to the previously complacent players of Sierra Leone who now looked stunned. With 410 points behind, they needed to get nine questions right, which I must add, was a tall order. And if they knew Latin America well, they found the category tough and their faces twisted with anger and frustration after they answered only six out of ten questions.

Show host John Sibi-Okumu delivered his goodbye to the losers and congratulated the day’s winners, who were visibly over the moon with excitement. It was a memorable night that sealed the ejection of the all lightweights, leaving behind the heavyweights to entertain us by battling it out with each other starting with tomorrow’s first quarterfinal bout.

When Uganda’s oldest university steps into the ring against Ghana’s oldest university, you can only expect sparks. Makerere University has a magnetic team led by Busia prodigy, Lamech Mbangaye who won the player of the week award in the first episode, not forgetting Nyero Simon Peter Lukwiya, the resilient son of the late Dr. Mathew Lukwiya.

But then, diehard followers of this inter-university battle of the brains have certainly not forgotten the pace of the lanky, bespectacled Lloyd Owusu-Asante and the tenacity of his fellow teammates that, combined, had University of Ghana trampling down on the University of Arusha in the second episode of this 30-minute academic quiz.

That’s why the Ghana-Mak fight promises to be a cracker. The $5,000 along with the prestigious Zain Scholars’ trophy is beckoning; either team knows progressing to the semis means drawing closer to the jackpot; and who doesn’t want the limelight of the grand finale? But let's not get ahead of ourselves. For now let's pray that Mak will put up a determined display and not squander Uganda’s last hopes. As usual, catch the battle tomorrow night, 8:30 p.m., only on NTV.