By Odeke OEA
Uganda Hippos return to action against Burundi in a must win contest on Wednesday, 25th November 2020.
AFCON U-20 Qualifiers (CECAFA Zone) – Group B: South Sudan 0-0 Uganda
How fast times have changed! Football battles between Uganda and South Sudan were previously envisaged as one-offs for the former, arguably CECAFA’s best footballing nation.
Of late, the gap has immensely narrowed down and present contests between the two countries are well fought for.
A week after the South Sudan senior team humbled the Uganda Cranes 1-0 at the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi, the U-20 side held their Ugandan counterparts to a non-scoring draw at the Shiekh Amri Abeid Stadium in Arusha.
Just like the game for the seniors, the Ugandan side played a man less for 55 minutes.
Towering KCCA defender Musa Ramathan was sent off by Djibouti referee Saddam Houssein Mansour for a poke in the face of James Dominque as the Junior South Sudanese were granted numerical advantage.
Before that nasty moment, it was Uganda Hippos with a light edge.
Left-footed forward Richard Basangwa was set up by Raymond Onyai as early as the 10th minute but the Vipers forward had a weak shot off target from 20 yards.
Three minutes later, Onyai had a deflected shot inside the goal area for a fruitless corner kick
On the quarter-hour mark, it was Uganda again but Ivan Asaba had an acrobatic overhead volley fly over the bar.
Midfielder Bobosi Byaruhanga’s 20th-minute free-kick was blasted high and over as the Hippos pushed forward for a break-through moment.
In the 23rd minute, overlapping left-back Abdul Azizi Kayondo was brought down 30 yards from the goal as the referee called for a foul.
The resultant free-kick was well defended by the South Sudanese defence and defender Kenneth Ssemakula had the rebound well dealt with by the goalkeeper.
South Sudan’s Dhata Lujang was cautioned for a wild lunge on Ramathan in the 27th minute before the moment of darkness for Uganda arrived 8 minutes later.
Ramathan poked the face of Dominique on the first side of the playing field and was sent off with a direct red card.
The sending off meant Uganda Hippos would deploy fresh tactics. Steven Sserwadda was called back at right-back as skipper Gavin Kizito returned to the central defence to partner Ssemakula.
Onyai tapped over from 20 yards and Kayondo had a wild cross-cutting over the field as the first 45 ends ended goal-less.
Upon restart of the final stanza, South Sudan called for two changes in the opening 10 minutes into the second half.
Uganda’s first change was done in the 62nd minute when Ivan Bogere replaced Onyai.
Byaruhanga was stopped off his customary distant free-kick, 40 yards away from the goal in the 67th minute.
Basangwa was rested with 5 minutes to play and on came Isma Mugulusi before the final change witnessed Joseph Kafumbe taking over a largely silent Najib Yiga in the closing two minutes of the game.
Uganda had the very last bite at the cherry with Bogere’s half volley flying over inside the goal area.
Uganda returns to action against Burundi in a must-win contest on Wednesday, 25th November 2020.