Uganda clinch historic title
Goalkeeper Abel Dhaira saved two penalties as Uganda beat Rwanda 3-2 on spot kicks to lift a record breaking 12th Tusker Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup title at the National Stadium, Dar es Salaam on Saturday.
Isaac Isinde, Hamis Kiiza and Andy Mwesigwa scored Uganda Cranes’ kicks but Moses Oloya had his saved by Jean Claude Ndoli while Habib Kavuma shot his over the bar.
Meddy Kagere and Haruna Niyonzima converted Rwanda’s Amavubi Stars’ kicks but Jean Baptiste Mugiraneza struck the woodwork before Peter Kagabo and Eric Gasana had theirs saved by Dhaira.
The penalties finally separated the sides after Cranes had twice come from behind to draw level 2-2 and force the game into extra time.
Kagere scored twice in the second half for Rwanda’ and Isinde and an Olivier Karekezi own goal completed the Cranes’ comeback.
Both sides were intent on attacking football from the onset. Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic’s Rwanda showed brilliant coordination in the passing game and were disciplined in defence.
But Uganda soon displayed more firepower going forward, Dan Wagaluka breaking free on the right in the seventh minute but the APR winger delayed to cut it in for the waiting Mike Sserumaga.
Emma Okwi should have twice done better when he shot wide with goalkeeper Ndoli at his mercy before Sserumaga’s fierce free kick went inches over.
Ndori was again defiant, parrying away Okwi’s shot from the area. Rwanda were unlucky with Andrew Buteera and Ismail Nshutiyamagara being stretched off with injuries midway the first half.
Rwanda’s best chance of the half fell to Olivier Karekezi but Dhaira saved brilliantly.
The Rwandans returned from the break more ignited, Jean Claude Iranzi and Kagere giving Mwesigwa and Isinde a handful of an afternoon.
Iranzi passed to Kagere, who beat Mwesigwa before striking to Dhaira’s right far post for Rwanda’s 1-0 lead on 51 minutes.
Cranes coach Bobby Williamson made three changes, first introducing Moses Oloya for Wagaluka, then Patrick Ochan for Musa Mudde and Hamis Kiiza for Sserumaga.
Sula Matovu rattled the cross bar after Ndoli had punched Kavuma’s free kick in his way on 73 minutes but four minutes later, another free kick from Kavuma found Oloya on the far post and his cut-back was ferociously volleyed in by Isinde inside to draw level.
Rwanda went ahead again two minutes later with Kagere evading Kavuma and Isinde before beating Dhaira on his right for his second of the day.
Uganda were level again to complete the crazy three minutes but this time Karekezi heading in his own net from a corner under pressure from Kiiza on 80 minutes.
And just like in Uganda’s semifinal against Tanzania, it had to go into extra time. It was an open two extra time halves in which both sides could have won it but for the two goalkeepers.
It was thus left to Dhaira to step and the giant keeper saved the decisive kick to ensure Uganda won the record breaking title and prevent Rwanda from winning their second.