Thursday, November 11
*Uganda 1-1 Kenya
Fahad Bayo scored a late equaliser as Uganda Cranes picked a hard fought draw against Kenya in a World Cup Qualification encounter at St Mary’s Stadium in Kitende.
The Harambee Stars were on course for a stunning victory before Bayo goalkeeper Brian Okoth Bwire in the 8th minute to roll home from close range.
Michael Olunga had put the visitors ahead just after halftime when he caught Cranes defence flat-footed to head past a helpless Charles Lukwago after a Kenneth Muguna freekick.
Cranes move to nine points, one below leaders Mali who faces Rwanda later in the day before the two sides (Uganda and Mali) meet in three days time.
Kenya Return to Haunt Uganda Again
Coming into the match, Uganda needed nothing but victory to keep pressure on leaders Mali before the two sides meet in Morocco for the decisive tie.
The 1-1 draw leaves Cranes reeling, reminiscent of scenes in 2011 at Namboole when Kenya frustrated Uganda to a goalless draw, result that ended Uganda’s 2012 AFCON dream.
Then, Uganda needed a win to qualify to AFCON, a jinx that was later broken.
It was a similar story on Thursday, but Uganda will feel lucky to have picked a point in a game they looked second best.
Its a sixth straight draw between the two sides in all competitions, a streak that portrays how close the rivalry is between the two sides.
Uganda Huff and Puff
Uganda Cranes looked a shadow of themselves and lacked that urgency in a game they needed all points available.
Bevis Mugabi and Timothy Awany lacked chemisty and the duo will feel responsible for Olunga’s goal.
The introduction of Ibrahim Orit, Milton Karisa and Allan Okello saw Cranes open up in the closing stages as Uganda sought for solace.
Karisa in particular was brought down twice in the area but Djibouti referee Ahmed Djama Souleiman waved play on.
Cranes best chance in the first half saw Mugabi fire over from close range after goalkeeper Bwiire spilled Bobosi Byaruhanga free-kick.
Substitute Martin Kizza skewed wide in the closing stages, to miss what would have been a late winner.
In the end, it was all mixed emotions for the Cranes who secured a late point but felt hard done for failing to beat Kenya in both legs.
Kenya Show Grit
Kenya Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat said that it was two points lost after his side conceded a late goal.
The Turkish gaffer ranted Bayo’s goal should not have stood because “it was a foul” on the goalkeeper.
Playing with nothing to lose, Kenya were very direct in attack thanks to a lanky Olunga who gave Uganda’s defence a torrid time.
He almost put Kenya into an early lead when the forward raced behind Uganda’s defence but Lukwago was called into action to save the situation.
And he later stabbed Uganda thanks to a piercing header after the hour-mark.
It was a commendable performance to a team that lost both legs against Mali last month and one that Coach Firat will look to build on in coming games.
Uganda Starting XI
Charles Lukwago (GK), Denis Iguma, Timothy Awany, Bevis Mugabi, Aziizi Kayondo, Khalid Aucho, Bobosi Byaruhanga, Moses Waiswa, Isaac Muleme, Steven Mukwala, Fahad Bayo
Watenga Ismail GK, Kigonya Mathias GK, Mulondo Livingstone, Kakooza Mahad, Mugweri Garvin, Revita John, Kagimu Shafiq, Kizza Martin, Orit Ibrahim, Okello Allan, Karisa Milton, Sentamu Yunus.
Coach: Milutin Sredojevic Micho
Kenya Starting XI
Brian Bwire (GK), Joseph Okumu, David Ochieng, Abud Omar, Amos Nondi, Anthony Akumu, Kenneth Muguna, Anthony Wambani, Abdallah Hassan, Samuel Onyango, Michael Olunga.
Ian Otieno GK), James Saruni (GK), Musa Mohammed, Johnstone Omurwa, Richard Odada, Duke Abuya, Timothy Noor Ouma, Alwyn Tera, Cliff Nyakeya, Cliffton Miheso, Ismael Salim
Coach : Engin Firat