Tuesday, March 29
3rd Place: Tajikistan 1-0 Kyrgyzstan
Final: Uzbekistan 4-2 Uganda
Uganda Cranes’ adventure in Uzbekistan ended on a low note after suffering a 4-2 loss to the hosts in the final at Navbahor Stadium in Namangan.
Uzbekistan, a place below Uganda in the FIFA Rankings, proved too superior for the Cranes as they were driven home by a sizeable home crowd.
A goal each from Farouk Miya and Emmanuel Okwi in the second half proved not enough for the Cranes on the day.
Captain and AS Roma striker Eldor Shomurodov scored a hat-trick while Jololiddin Masharipov was also on target for the Asian side.
Cranes coach Micho had warned his charges about Uzbekistan threat, and the players got baptised with fire.
Uganda had matched the side for the first 30 minutes of the game and they almost scored the opener only for Farouk Miya’s freekick to be headed out for corner.
And it was from that corner that Uzbekistan launched a counter to score at the other end.
It was an ugly goal to concede after Herbert Achai collided with goalkeeper Nafian Alionzi way outside the box to allow Mashalpov to score in an unguarded net in the 32nd minute.
And they doubled the lead when Amonov’s defence split pass beat Livingston Mulondo and Steven Sserwadda to find Shomudorov who curled it around a helpless Nafian at the far corner.
Uganda brought one back just seven minutes in the second half when Miya was picked by Milton Karisa’s cross, turned and fired from close range.
But the hosts had an immediate response. It was similar from the first. Uzbekistan beat Uganda with pace on the counter, and Shomurodov was in the right place to finish off a low delivery from Erkinov.
Shomurodov completed his hat-trick when he received from Masharlpov, fended off resistance from Halid Lwaliwa, before sending his rocket past Alionzi from just outside the box.
Okwi scored the second, and it was a beauty; he beat his marker before sending a ferocious effort at the far bottom corner in the 77th minute.
But damage had already been done.
Coach Micho will feel hard done by the way his team was rolled over by a quicker side, but will take lessons from the game and return to the drawing board before the 2023 AFCON Qualifiers in June.