Uganda’s chances of booking a Tokyo 2020 Olympics ticket look to have petered rather early out after losses to Mozambique and Guinea in the second round qualifiers of Group D’s Continental Cup at White Sands Beach, Entebbe.
Only the top two teams in the round-robin competition, that also has Egypt and Zimbabwe, can advance to the final qualification round due in June.
Uganda’s second team of captain Joan Nabbuto and Aisha Kagoya started with promise, beating Mozambique’s first team 21-17 in the opening set of the championship played in soothing weather.
But their dominance quickly fizzled out as Ana Paula and Jessica Alberto rallied to take set two 12-21 and then win the decisive set of that match 6-15.
It did not help Uganda’s home advantage that they played in an arena devoid of fans – hardly a surprise for a mid-week championship being played during day and out of the city centre.
Uganda’s main team of Peace Busingye and Margaret Namyalo then came to save the tie, but they were whitewashed 2-0 (8-21, 10-21) by Mozambique’s Vanessa Mvianga and Locadia Manhica.
“We were let down by our reception but we will do better in our upcoming games,” Nabbuuto promised as she insisted “every game we play is a build up to the next one.”
The chance to test her words came fast and there was reprieve as Busingye and Namyalo tore apart Guinea Two’s Salematou and Marie Edith Camara 2-0 (21-14, 21-12) in the third tie of the day. The Guinea duo had also earlier lost 2-0 (21-8, 21-15) to Zimbabwe One before the enduring duo of Aicha Keita and Fatoumata Binta Bah beat Zim Two 2-0 (21-7, 21-12) to force a golden set that Guinea won 17-15.
When Keita and Bah faced the Nabbuto-Kagoya pair, there was hope that the fatigue could set in for the Guineans but they instead sailed to a 0-2 (17-21, 11-21) win to force another decider.
Uganda coach Sam Meya went for a combination of Nabbuto and Namyalo to save the tie in golden set. However, apart from improved service, they offered little as Guinea ran away 15-9 winners for their second triumph of the day.
Today, Uganda faces Zimbabwe and before seeing out their fate against Egypt tomorrow.
Continental volleyball cup
GROUP D second ROUND QUALIFIER
Uganda Two 1-2 M’bique One (21-17, 12-21, 6-15)
Uganda One 0-2 Mozambique Two (8-21, 10-21)
Guinea One 2-0 Zimbabwe Two (21-8, 21-15)
Guinea Two 0-2 Zimbabwe One (7-21, 12-21)
Uganda One 2-0 Guinea Two (21-14, 21-12)
Uganda Two 0-2 Guinea One (17-21, 11-21)