AFCON U20: Uganda Hippos’ World Cup Dream Over

The AFCON U20 Quarterfinals

Thursday, March 2
*Senegal πŸ‡ΈπŸ‡³ 1-0 Benin πŸ‡§πŸ‡―
*Uganda πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¬ 0-1 Nigeria πŸ‡³πŸ‡¬

Friday, March 3
*Congo πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¬ Vs Tunisia πŸ‡ΉπŸ‡³
*Gambia πŸ‡¬πŸ‡² Vs South Sudan πŸ‡ΈπŸ‡Έ

Uganda Hippos’ hopes of qualifying for the U20 World Cup have ended after suffering a 1-0 defeat against Nigeria in a Quarterfinal tie of the ongoing 2023 AFCON U20 tournament in Egypt.

Needing a win to qualify for the U20 World Cup in Indonesia, the Hippos conceded in the first half and failed to recover despite creating numerous chances.

Ibrahim Muhammad’s shot came off the post and bounced in off Hippos defender Ibrahim Juma for the game’s only goal.

The Hippos were at the front foot for the game’s entirety but finished with nothing to show for their dominance.

And as Nigeria celebrated at fulltime for clinching a World Cup ticket, Uganda’s reward was an unwanted ticket back to Kampala at the earliest.

It’s a result hard to take in for the Hippos but such is the cruelty at this stage if you fail to convert your chances.

Nigeria’s Flying Eagles will meet winner between Gambia and South Sudan for a place in the final.

In the first quarterfinal played earlier, captain Samba Diallo was on target as Senegal edged Benin to reach the semis and also qualify for the World Cup as well.

Wasteful Hippos Shown Exit

There will be no fairytale run for Uganda as it was in 2021 in Mauritania when the team went all the way to the final.

Then, away from free flowing style of football, Morley Byekwaso’s side were more clinical in front of goal, including a game they put four past Tunisia!

It will sound unfair to draw comparison, given that Jackson Mayanja’s side have met a huge stumbling block in Nigeria who are record winners of this competition.

But on Thursday night, it wasn’t about how good Nigeria were, but it zeroed down on Hippos inability to put away chances.

Mayanja will feel his side could have done better but he was hard done a poor show by some of his supposed-to-be reliable players like Travis Mutyaba and Titus Ssematimba who were part of the Uganda Cranes team at recent CHAN.

Rogers Mugisha was a live wire on the left flank and could have given Uganda an early lead but his effort was deflected by Fredrick Benjamin into the corner.

And from that resultant corner, Ivan Irinimbabazi saw his header saved by a lanky Nigerian goalkeeper Chijoke Aniagboso.

Mugisha headed over the bar from close range before Nigeria scored at the other end!

The goal could have been avoided but the defence was caught flat footed by a long pass down the left, with Muhammad given time and space to cut inside before launching an effort that created havoc.

The second half was all about Uganda as Nigeria sat back, and Mugulusi had a chance inside the area only to shoot weakly at goal after good interplay.

Mayanja could not generate enough power when he was picked inside the area, and Nigeria held on until the final whistle.

Nigeria Get the Job Done

Nigeria put up a disciplined performance and it will take some beating to stop this side.

The Flying Eagles never went through all their gears, and their show was another reminder that this team has won this competition a record seven times.

Nigeria is a powerhouse, and once again proved that you don’t have to play well to get a needed result.

They defended tirelessly and looked dangerous everytime they went up front.

Coach Ladan Bosso may not be happy with the performance, but his side has improved since their opening loss against Senegal.

And none will care for now, after their number one target of qualifying for the World Cup has been reached.

It’s a good achievement for Nigeria especially that they missed the last AFCON U20 tournament.

The World Cup in Indonesia later this year will be Nigeria’s 12th, and they will fancy their chances for a deep run having reached the final twice in 1989 and 2005.

Starting XIs

Uganda – Abdu Magada, Rogers Torach, Ronald Madoi, Isma Mugulusi, Titus Ssematimba, Travis Mutyaba, John Dembe, Ivan Irinimbabazi, Apollo Kagogwe, Rogers Mugisha

Nigeria – Chijioke Aniagboso, Augustine Njoku, Solomon Agbalaka, Abel Ogwuche, Rilwanu Sarki, Muhammad Aminu, Ibrahim Muhammad, Benjamin Fredrick, Onuche Ogbelu, Ayuba Abubakar, Samson Lawal



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