Cranes’ 1st AFCON Win Since 1978 Heroics

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar June 28, 2019 19:28

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Cranes’ 1st AFCON Win Since 1978 Heroics

By Satish Sekar at the Cairo International Stadium © Satish Sekar (June 22nd 2019)

Historic

It’s been a staggering four decades plus since the Cranes last tasted victory at the finals of the Africa Cup of Nations. By far Uganda’s best AFCON performance saw them lose in the final to Ghana – an historic win as the Black Stars became the first team to win three times and keep the trophy.

A disciplined performance went a long way to quell the doubters. Impressive in qualification, boasting a formidable last line questions remained about attacking prowess. They were answered emphatically by Patrick Kaddu and Emmanuel Okwi, the Man of the Match, although it ought to have been Faruku Miya, who pulled the strings of Uganda’s performance.

Less than quarter of an hour into the match Miya’s corner was met with a powerful header by Kaddu to put Uganda ahead. Shortly after high time Okwi was fouled on the left by Issama Mpeko Djos and Miya exacted full retribution. His free-kick was headed in by Okwi.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, fancied to do well, were lacklustre, at best. Few chances were created and Africa’s Goalkeeper of the Year – again – Denis Onyango had little to do. It could and should have been worse as Kaddu missed a sitter just after scoring.

Onyango’s long pass up the left found Bevis Mugabi. His run and cross set Kaddu up, and the KCCA FC forward should have done better. A couple of minutes later he almost made amends from a tight angle, but keeper Matampi Ngumbi Ley beat it away.

Toothless

The Leopards’ attack was toothless. Merveille Bopé’s long range effort summed up the lack of bite – that was never a threat to Onyango’s goal. And when a good opportunity presented itself Cedric Bakambu got in the way of the better placed Yannick Bolassie.

In the last six minutes of the first half Uganda created chances and Congo finally tested Onyango. Miya beats Matampi to the ball. There was contact, but Miya was going down before keeper arrived – the referee, Rédouane Jiyed, decided that was no penalty.

A minute later a fierce long range shot by Abdu Lumala just cleared the bar, and Miya’s shot from the edge of the area did the same. With two minutes of the half remaining Masuaka found Bakambu in the area. Bakambu’s sharp turn and shot required Onyango to make a save.

Shortly after Okwi’s goal, Bopé was booked for fouling Miya. It didn’t phase Miya. Matampa soon had to be alert to tip Miya’s dipping free-kick over. Bopé and Akwi then traded awful efforts, which seemed to affect the otherwise imperious Miya into firing a free-kick straight at Matampa.

Meshack Elia Lina’s deflected shot required Onyango to be alert. He was hurt by Chancel Mangulu Mbemba following in. Elia was soon in the action again as his cross was headed out, and Bopé knocked it back in for substitute Jonathan Bolingi to loop a header past Onyango, only to be denied by the crossbar.

Bolassie acknowledged that the DRC were not good enough, and pledged that they would work on the creativity and scoring opportunities in training.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar June 28, 2019 19:28