An 85th-minute header by Vipers defender Halid Lwaliwa was the difference between the hosts Uganda Cranes and South Sudan in the group B 2021 AFCON qualifying game between the two neighbouring countries at St.Mary’s stadium Kitende on Thursday.
Coming into the game, the hosts were top of the group, whereas there were wallowing at the bottom without a point and many expected it to be a walkover but as the Cranes coach Johnathan McKinstry and captain Denis Onyango had said earlier before the game, South Sudan proved stubborn.
Prior to the goal, there were as few moments to be happy about in a game that can as well be summarized as boring, especially in the first stanza as Uganda played in their new home for the first time but also in an empty stadium without fans
However, the saving moment came only five minutes to the final whistle when the Vipers captain capitalized on Faruku Miya’s free-kick to head the ball into the back of the net to send fans who were watching the televised game from their homes into frenzy.
The 85th-minute goal was enough to ensure Uganda emerged victors against a stubborn and resilient South Sudan side.
Speaking shortly after the game, Cranes captain, Denis Onyango said the visitors have continued to improve day by day but noted that with resilience, they finally gave way.
“I thank the boys for playing hard to ensure we got the three points. This is only the first half but if we got all the three points in the return leg on Monday, we will have edged closer to qualification,”Onyango said.
For the team tactician, Johnathan McKinstry the team was awful in the first half but kept on improving as the game progressed but noted the enemy was a hard nut to crack.
“Results come and you have to find a way to win. Not every day is your performance ten out of ten. I can’t criticize anyone. I do think we needed more quality in the way we play. We need to put this at the back of our heads as we go into the next game,”McKinstry said.
“This win puts us in a good position to qualify. “
Following the Thursday results where Burkina Faso also beat Malawi 3-1 in Ouagadougou, Uganda is now second in the group on seven points, the same as the Stallions but the East African side has scored fewer goals.
Uganda will visit South Sudan on Monday in the return leg game.