CAIRO. Emmanuel Okwi scored Uganda’s third goal of the tournament but it was not enough to hand the Cranes all three points as Zimbabwe’s Khama Billiat intervened. The result moves Uganda to four points, which should - at worst case scenario - have them in the last 16.
Uganda started like a house on fire, Faruku Miya breaking down the Zimbabweans in the middle to connect Khalid Aucho.
Aucho’s quick glide found an inflight Abdu Lumala, the Sweden based winger driving in and his low effort punched by Zimbawe goalkeeper George Chigova into Okwi’s path.
The Simba striker tapped it home from close range for Uganda’s opener and his second of the tournament on 11 minutes.
Cairo International Stadium erupted, with majority of the Egyptian fans - who filled the 75,000 capacity facility ahead of their game against DRC - joining a section of Ugandans in celebration.
But that was just about it for Uganda’s ambitions.
Their structure was broken down in the middle and defence, with Patrick Kaddu - who missed an open goal late on - isolated up top.
Having lost their first match to Egypt, they needed to get back to stay their Africa Cup of Nations chances alive.
Billiat thoroughly tested Bevis Mugabi at right back and Ronald Mukiibi, in for a reportedly ill Murushid Jjuuko in central defence.
Twice the Zimbabwean connected Knowledge Musona but the Zimbabwe captain failed to beat goalkeeper Denis Onyango in Uganda’s goal.
Billiat himself dragged his effort wide inside the box after being teed on by Obvious Karuru before moments later forcing Onyango to his first serious save on 35 minutes.
By now Billiat had changed wings to test Godfrey Walusimbi, who needed Hassan Wasswa’s constant help, the other end.
And when Karuru beat his men down the left, Billiat was on hand to beat Onyango for the first time in the tournament on 40 minutes for 1-1.
The song hardly changed after half time, Billiat cleverly releasing Karuru on the right.
Karuru’s ball in caused pandemonium in Cranes box but Musona, Zimbabwe’s guiltiest on the evening, hit the upright.
Billiat again midway the half teed on substitute Karuru but Onyango’s double save, including off the line, literally confirmed Uganda’s point.
Goalkeeping coach Fred Kajoba sprinting at full time to hug Onyango completed the story.
Khama Billiat (Zimbabwe):
“I got the Man of The Match Award but unfortunately we didn’t get the result we wanted. During the game I thought we could get the second goal. We have to take responsibility as strikers.”
Sebastien Desabre (Uganda coach):
“It was a difficult game for us and after we scored we accepted pressure on us and conceded. But in the second half we did get better organization. I’m proud of my players.”
Sunday Chidzambwa (Zim coach):
“We had planned the game very well and everyone can agree we played better than we did against Egypt. We created many chances but didn’t put them away. I have to congratulate my boys.”