Uganda pip Zim to storm semis
Uganda took a step closer to winning a record breaking 12th Cecafa Tusker Senior Challenge Cup after seeing off Zimbabwe 1-0 in the third quarter final in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday.
Hamis Kiiza repaid coach Bobby Williamson’s faith in him, scoring the winner for the Cranes in the 15th minute from a well weighted cross from Sula Matovu.
Both players, usually impact substitutions, started at the expense of Emma Okwi and Mike Mutyaba whose lethargic performance in the 1-0 loss to Burundi in the last Group B game last week cost them their places.
Uganda and the Warriors of Zimbabwe came into this clash having each won two games and lost one in their respective groups but once the starting whistle went, the Cranes took the initiatives.
Coach Norman Mapeza’s men matched the Cranes in the early exchanges but there was little to separate them until after a quarter of an hour gone.
Returning to the starting line-up after missing the defeat to Burundi, Cranes skipper Andy Mwesigwa’s commanding presence was evident as he stopped Charles Sibanda when the Zimbabwean forward met striker Donald Ngoma pass.
The FC Ordabasy defender won the ball from his half, raced past two Zimbabweans before releasing Matovu on the left.
Matovu, on loan to Ethiopian side St George from Proline of Uganda, beat his marker. His cross found Kiiza at the far post and the Yanga striker’s header beat goalkeeper George Chigova in the 15th minute.
Seven minutes later Mwesigwa’s header from a Tonny Mawejje free kick was well saved by Chigoya.
Zimbabwe’s best attack of the half came in the 26th minute when Ngoma advanced in the area after beating Godfrey Walusimbi and Isaac Isinde but Mwesigwa cleared from danger.
Cranes goalkeeper Abel Dhaira had not much to do on his return from a bout of malaria. Mike Sserumaga should have taken Uganda to the break 2-0 up but his shot after expertly collecting a pass from Matovu just ratcheted the cross bar.
The Warriors returned from recess in much better shape with Ngoma, Sibanda, Tapiwa Khumbuyani and Benjamin Marere all having a go at the Cranes backline.
Mawejje forced a fine save from Chigoya on 53 minutes but the first real chance of the second half came seven minutes later when Marere beat Walusimbi on the left. Sibanda should have done better as his weak shot was easily saved by Dhaira.
Zimbabwe were having the momentum now and Sibanda was running rings around Walusimbi and Isinde.
But Sibanda’s intended loop after Mwesigwa and Isinde were beaten on 68 minutes went over and above in what was the best chance for the Warriors to draw level.
Bobby had to make his final substitution, bringing on Patrick Ochan in place of tired Sserumaga and the TP Mazembe midfielder should have put the game to bed with four minutes to go but his shot from six yards was cleared away.
The Cranes held on to starve off Warriors and will face the winner between Malawi and Tanzania in the semi final on Thursday.