Resilient Cranes romp to final
One goal in the 90 and two more in extra time booked Uganda a final date with Rwanda in the Cecafa Tusker Senior Challenge Cup following their 3-1 triumph over Tanzania on Thursday.
The game had ended one apiece in regulation after Mrisho Ngasha had given Tanzania an 18th minute lead but Uganda levelled through skipper Andy Mwesigwa’s header on 56 minutes.
Emma Okwi then came off the bench to head in past Juma Kaseja on 102 minutes before an Isaac Isinde penalty on 111 minutes completed Cranes’ victory.
It’s on spot kicks that Tanzania eliminated Uganda at the same stage last year and Cranes coach Bobby Williamson enthused going into the game how he wished it would not go to spot kicks.
Uganda will now face Rwanda in this year’s final on Saturday, a repeat of the 2009 edition in Nairobi when the Cranes beat Rwanda 2-0 in to lift their 11th title. Rwanda had earlier seen off Sudan 2-1 to progress.
Both sides started the game with intent, Ngasha testing Cranes goalkeeper Abel Dhaira and Hamis Kiiza giving Juma Kaseja some work when he met Sula Matovu’s cross from the left in opening exchanges.
But Boniface Mkwasa’s men soon started to take care of proceedings. First Juma Jabu escaped Andy Mwesigwa with the goalkeeper to beat but shot over.
The alarm bells ringing in coach Bobby Williamson’s defence and the door had to yield to the Tanzanian’s early pressure.
Ngasa raced onto a long ball from his own half beating Isinde, with Dhaira racing off his line to clear the danger.
But in so doing, a half-hearted Dhaira was beaten to the ball by Ngasa before Tanzania’s best player thus far walked it into the net for a 1-0 lead.
Tonny Mawejje then forced Kaseja into a fine save but the hosts could have extended their lead when Mwesigwa dillydallied with a high ball, losing it to Ngasa, who squared for Ibrahim Javu but his shot ratcheted off the cross bar.
The Tanzanians went to the break in ascendency but the Cranes turned tables after the break as they searched for an equalizer.
Matovu, who had an enterprising game on the left midfield, beat his man before crossing to Kiiza but the Yanga striker’s weak header from three yards was well saved by Kaseja.
But two minutes later, the equalizer did arrive, Mwesigwa heading past Kaseja off a Sserumaga corner in the 56th minute.
And Okwi, on for Sserumaga, who was withdrawn after getting booked, should have made it 2-1 thereafter following his solo run into the area but Kaseja was again defiant, blocking his shot.
The last 20 minutes of normal time saw more of physical play than ball action as Ethiopian referee Bamlak Tessema dished one yellow card after another, with Godfrey Walusimbi the biggest casualty as he will miss the final.
The 90 couldn’t produce a winner, just like last year, and extra time had to be called on.
Shaban Nditi will rue contributing the miss of the tournament when he inexplicably headed off the line with Dhaira off his line before again firing wide a minute later.
Okwi should have punished them the other end but Kaseja, for the umpteenth time thwarted him.
But when Simeon Masaba crossed from the right and Okwi jumped highest to head past Kaseja for a 2-1. Isinde put it beyond doubt, beating Kaseja from the spot kick after Okwi was brought down in the area.