UPDF went ahead of Mbarara City in the StarTimes Uganda Premier League as Musa Mudde’s injury time penalty earned them a hard-fought 1-0 home victory at the Bombo Barracks Ground on Saturday.
In a game low on quality in the final third, the veteran midfielder held his nerves to slot beyond Muhammad Ssekeba who got a hand to his effort but failed to keep it out.
The spot light shown around Brian Ssenyondo who came up against his former side for the first time in his career. While the coach played down talk of bad blood before the game, his broad smile at the final whistle said much about the silenced desire to get one over his former club.
The victory extended UPDF’s unbeaten run over Mbarara at home in the league to three games while the Ankole Lions have now lost all three of their away games in the league this season.
Hussein Mbalangu said before kick-off that he had an answer to arrest his team’s struggles on the road this season, and rolled out a different shape with Ronald Onyai, Jude Ssemugabi and Henry Kitegenyi starting upfront in a three-man forward line.
But Mbalangu’s side failed to settle into their new shape, as their hosts took control of possession. Donato Okello controlled the contest from the base of midfield, as a lose ball fell to Mudde but his volley from outside the area flew over the cross bar.
It was not until the 27th minute that the Ankole Lions flickered into life as moments after Solomon Okwalinga’s volley from outside the penalty area, Kitegenyi drew a top save from Yusuf Wasswa with the forward’s diving header nearly caught out the goalkeeper at the near post.
Despite holding marginally more of the possession by the Army side, they had only two shots on target in the first half, and nearly fell behind as a penalty appeal was waved off before Wasswa almost dropped a cross at Kitegenyi’s feet, but his defenders were on hand to block the rebound.
UPDF continued to have even more dominance of the ball in the second half, stepping up a gear in the final 20 minutes as they kept Mbarara pinned deep into their defensive third and unable to step out.
And their period of control yielded deep in added time when Steven Otheino brought down Ezekiel Katende in the final minute of added time.
Mudde stepped up to bury the penalty beyond Ssekeba who had received a yellow card for dissent over the decision.
UPDF head into the international break in fifth position on eight position while Mbarara take the break in ninth position on six points.