An out of sorts Uganda Cranes left it late to edge South Sudan in a dull AFCON 2021 qualifier encounter at Mary’s Kitende grounds in Kampala. The Cranes who were visibly very rusty and uncoordinated played a disjointed match to grind the much-needed result to improve its chances of qualifications to the continental showpiece.
Jonathan McKinstry’s charges who played a dour goalless firs half looked like they were headed for a stalemate as the match went deep into the second half with no signs of a goal coming through.
It was however Halid Lwaliwa’s powerful header that was the difference at an empty St. Mary’s stadium, as he broke the deadlock for the struggling Cranes in the 85th minute. The result however pushes the East African nation closer to qualication with 7 points from 3 games in group B.
Lwaliwa who came on as a second-half substitute turned hero with the solitary strike that condemned the hard-battling South Sudanese who gave an impressive account of themselves despite being the minnows in the group.
Viper’s defender Lwaliwa thumped the powerful header off Faruku Miya’s well-curled free-kick with just 5 minutes to the end of the game as South Sudan’s resilience was finally broken.
The Vipers’ captain had replaced defender Ronald Mukiibi Ddungu who limped out with a hamstring injury.
There were just a handful of chances created with Cranes Captain Dennis Onyango remaining largely untroubled between the sticks, although Tito Okello who switched allegiance from Uganda, remained a constant threat to the backline alongside Ivan Wani.
Left-back Joseph Ochaya provided a few runs on the left side but his shots and free kicks did not trouble keeper Ramadan John Mayik Diing on the opposing side.
In the second half, midfielders Mike Azira, Kalid Aucho and Kizito Luwagga together with Farouk Miya started pulling strings through the middle though it was Sudanese striker Makueth Wol Akeen Nguet who had a cracker at Onyango and Dominic Angelo Kornelio Aroma also with a tame attempt early in the second half.
The critical moment of the match came with only 5 minutes left on the clock as Lwaliwa rose to give the Cranes all the 3 points to take them to 7 ahead of Burkina Faso on 4 as the face Malawi next. There were no fans to celebrate due to Covid-19 however Ugand will play South Sudan again next week in Nairobi.
Uganda Cranes XI: Denis Onyango (18), Elvis Bwomono (06), Joseph Ochaya (02), Ronald Mukiibi (12), Timothy Denis Awany (03), Mike Azira (23), Khalid Aucho (08), Faruku Miya (17), William Kizito Luwagga (10), Derrick Nsibambi (11), Emmanuel Arnold Okwi (07)
Substitutes: Jamal Salim (19), Charles Lukwago (01), Nicholas Wadada (14), Disan Galiwango, Patrick Mbowa (24), Halid Lwaliwa (15), Shafiq Kagimu (13), Karim Watambala (25), Allan Okello (20), Edrisa Lubega (22), Brian Ahebwa (16), Fahad Bayo (09)
South Sudan XI: Ramadan John Mayik Diing (1), Abdulkarim Yom Mutwakil (29), Peter Maker Manyang (4), Rehan Angier Malong (14), Manyumom Achol (8), Jackson Morgan Odebe (16), Ivan Wani Adebo (7), David Sebit Omot (17), Tito Okello Odong (10), Makueth Wol Akeen Nguet (22), Stephen Pawaar Lony (25)
Substitutes: Godfrey Nyeko Okello (3), Abdalla Asad Musa (24), John Kuol Chol (15), Kenjok Wal Athiu (9), Dominic Abul Pretino (11), Joseph Kuch Nyuar Atak (12), Dominic Angelo Kornelio Aroma (6), Bak Majok Nyang (2), Majak Maling Mawith (23 – Goalkeeper), Denis Yongure Daluri (20), Aluck Akech Mabior (19)