Egypt 1-0 Zimbabwe
Uganda 2-0 DRC
Nigeria 1-0 Burundi
Guinea 2-2 Madagascar
Uganda Cranes secured their first victory at the AFCON finals in 41 years on Saturday with a surprise 2-0 win over Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the second Group A clash at the Cairo international stadium, Egypt.
KCCA FC forward Patrick Kaddu opened the scoring heading in from the corner in the 14th minute after a well-timed run near post. It was the 23-year-old’s second goal for Cranes after his maiden goal in two caps confirmed Uganda’s qualification for the continental showpiece with a 1-0 win over Cape Verde at Namboole stadium in November 2018.
Simba SC forward and Man of the match Emma Okwi headed home the second from a free kick three minutes after half time as Uganda side went top of Group A with 3 points bettering Egypt with one-goal difference.
The hosts and 7-time record champions beat Zimbabwe 1-0 in the opener on Friday with Mahmoud Trezeguet scoring the only goal in the 41st minute.
Uganda, under Serbian Milutin Micho Sredojevic lost two and drew one in the 2017 AFCON in Gabon, and only managed to score one through Miya Faruku in the last game as they bowed out at group stage.
In Cairo on Saturday, a lively Kaddu missed two great chances to add to his tally with first half headers while impressive Khalid Aucho and Michael Azira saw their long range efforts saved and go wide respectively.
Substitute Jonathan Bolingi had DRC’s best opportunity but the forward’s header struck the top of crossbar. Uganda’s skipper Denis Onyango, as usual, stood strong in goal to inspire the team with great game reading and quick decision making to hand the two-time champions a humiliating defeat. Uganda, who last won at AFCON in 1978 –beating Nigeria at the semi finals 2-1 before losing to Ghana 2-0 in the finals, will face Zimbabwe on Wednesday seeking a point to secure progress to knockout stage while 2017 quarter finalists DRC will seek redemption against charged Egypt later that day.
Uganda executed and stuck to game plan
Arguably the team’s recent best performance, Sebastien Desabre’s side was tactically disciplined and offensive-minded. They kept their game plan –controlling the midfield and playing wide in the final third for crosses in the box which paid off, thanks to the French tactician’s spot-on tactics.
Miya Faruku, Michael Azira and Aucho were too strong in the midfield while Moses Lumala and Emma Okwi, from the flanks, always took the game to the Leopards, who came into the game as favorites.
Unusually, Miya focused on creativity more than taking matters in his hands as usual which gave the team more options. Kaddu kept DR Congo defense at bay whilst Uganda’s back line marking at high line.
With visible physical fitness and mental strength as well as endurance, Captain Onyango believes the three-week camp the team had in Abu Dhabi enabled players to understand each other well.
“The weeks we had in Abu Dhabi helped us much, you saw the composure, fighting spirit, self believe, courage and team work. I am grateful for the team. The 1-0 win over Ivory Coast in last international build-up doubled our confidence. We are handling one game at ago and each game is a final. We have to stay focused ahead of our next challenge against Zimbabwe,” noted the Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper.
DRC had a colorful entry with their customary singing and dancing whilst Uganda kept their cool –only after the 90 minutes, the scoreboard having a result that will give the team confidence ahead of next tie as DRC, with an aging squad will be hoping for a better result.
Uganda will pray that impressive Lumala, who limped off in the 82nd minute and replaced by Isaac Muleme shakes off the knock in time.
Uganda Cranes XI: Denis Onyango (Cpt), Bevis Mugabi, Godfrey Walusimbi, Murushid Jjuuko, Hassan Wasswa Mawanda, Mike Azira, Emmanuel Arnold Okwi, Khalid Aucho, Faruku Miya (Denis Awany 88’), Patrick Henry Kaddu (Allan Kyamadde 75’), Abdu Lumala (Isaac Muleme 82’)
Subs Not Used: Jamal Salim, Robert Odongkara, Nico Wakiro Wadada, Brian Mukiibi, Joseph Ochaya, Allan Kateregga, William Kizito Luwagga, Tadeo Lwanga, Derrick Nsibambi