Cranes peck harmless Stars
Uganda repeated the 1-0 scoreline they did over Kenya in the January 2009 Cecafa Tusker Cup final as the champions kicked off the title defence perfectly at Namboole Stadium in Kampala, Saturday.
Midfielder Geoffrey ‘Baba’ Kizito, scoring his first goal in his third senior Cranes cap, grabbed the winner on 74 minutes to ensure coach Bobby Williamson’s men join Ethiopia, who earlier beat South Sudan by the same scoreline, on three points.
The only downside to Uganda’s victory was a serious looking chest injury to first choice goalkeeper Abel Dhaira, who required extended medical attention on and off the pitch before being taken to hospital in an ambulance.
The IBV goalkeeper of the year sustained the injury after colliding with Rama Salim as the Kenyan striker charged to connect Paul Were’s low cross. Hamza Muwonge then came on to for the 25-year-old.
This was the first time the two countries were meeting in any competition since the Harambee Stars subjected Cranes to a goalless draw here at Namboole last year to deny them a place at this year’s Nations Cup in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
Uganda now face Ethiopia in the top of Group A clash next Tuesday with Fifa’s newest member, South Sudan, facing off with Kenya, each desperate to pick their first point.
The Cranes dominated the first period with Kenya being allowed yards of free spaces in the second half.
Emmanuel Okwi, Kizito and Moses Oloya all came coming close in either half, with the later hitting the cross bar midway the second half.
Kenya also did hit the upright when skipper Anthony ‘Modo’ Kimani stretched Muwonge only for the ball to crash off and out of danger.
Uganda at times conducted intricate passing orchestrated by Baba, Godfrey Walusimbi, Okwi and Kizito but the finishing left a lot to be desired.
Not for long. As Cranes desperately looked to the breakthrough, Denis Guma, starting at right back, surged forward only to be impeded by a Kenyan player on the right midfield.
The Sports Club Victoria University (SVCU) player picked himself up and delivered a quality ball off a free kick and the unmarked Kizito headed past Duncan Ochieng, who otherwise had a good game in goal, and in to send the 20,000-plus fans wild.