Abdallah Mubiru became the second Ugandan to qualify the Cranes to the Africa Nations Championship (Chan) on Saturday after Moses Basena in 2017.
The difference, though, this time is that while Basena only completed the job started by his then boss, Micho Sredojevic, Mubiru - who ended his Cranes interim tenure unbeaten in normal time - started his and finished it.
The other distinction is that while Basena did not travel with the team to the finals in Morocco 2018 after he was replaced by Matia Lule as new head coach Sebastien Desabre’s assistant, Mubiru is shoe-in to deputize latest boss Johnny McKinstry in Cameroon.
The Northern Irishman was in the stands as his understudy, Mubiru, brilliantly completed the job alongside his helper Livingstone Mbabazi as Uganda qualified for their fifth straight Chan finals.
Fahad Bayo and Viane Sekajugo, true to their words mid-last week, scored and one of the game’s most impressive players, Allan Okello, capped it in the 3-0 defeat of Burundi to make 2020 Cameroon Chan 6-0 on aggregate.
With Chan zonal qualification almost making it obligatory for Uganda to routinely qualify as the Cranes boss the Cecafa region, focus at the finals in January/February will be on progressing from the group for the first time in five attempts.And barring any player transfers, which you cannot bank on, or injuries, McKinstry had Mubiru have enough armory to give it ago and prove they cut it among the best on the continent.
Some of that Arsenal was on show at Lugogo on Saturday, never mind that the opponent arrived the night before and had their last training within the game itself.
While dominated by the hosts, Burundi did not look extremely shabby, at times knitting together some beautiful passing and movement.
Their danger man Iddy Muselemu, donning jersey seven, made Paul Willa earn his pay at Cranes right back.
Landry Ndikumana also delivered a beauty of a volley after Muselemu’s beautiful run down the right but Charles Lukwago in Uganda’s goal saved brilliantly.
“We were more open last time (in Burundi) but this time it was all about managing the 90 minutes,” said Mubiru, “And of course the ultimate target was to qualify and we have done that.” But that was about it for the guests as Okello dictated proceedings between the middle and attack.
Nicholas Kasozi controlled midfield rythym alongside Yusuf Ssozi, and classy John Revita displayed finesse in defense next to adventurous Mustafa Kizza.
An interplay involving Mike Mutyaba, Okello and Kizza ended with a low cross to Bayo, who controlled, turned and beat Onesime Rukundo for a fifth minute lead.
Bayo should have got his second in Cranes colours moments later after a fine through ball from Okello had him on goal but the forward put it wide with an empty goal calling.
The visitors kept it tight to trail only 1-0 at half time.
But with Sekajugo replacing Mutyaba midway the second half, the diminutive winger overpowered two defenders to poke home Willa’s cross for 2-0 on 71 minutes.
It was only fitting that Okello had the last word at his KCCA home, the youngster punishing goalkeeper Rukundo’s error by beating him to his near post.
“Most of my players are new to this level and it was tough for them to match Uganda,” said Burundi coach. Hard to disagree
Uganda Cranes XI:
Charles Lukwago (GK), Paul Willa, Mustafa Kizza, Halid Lwaliwa (Captain), John Revita, Yusuf Ssozi, Nicholas Kasozi, Allan Okello, Fahad Bayo (78’ Dan Sserunkuma), Mike Mutyaba (65’ Viane Sekajugo), Shafiq Kagimu (55’ Bright Anukani)
Unsed subs: James Alitho (G.K), Musitafa Mujuzi,, Allan Kayiwa, Saidi Kyeyune
Onesime Rukundo (G.K), Cedric Mavugo (52’ Benjamin Gasongo), Iddy Muselemu, Youssouf Ndayishimiye (75’ Masudi Narcisse), Landry Ndikumana (69’ Olivier Bayizere), Abdoul Amini, Emmanuel Harerimana, Eric Ndizeye, Asman Ndimana, Abed Bigirmana, Cedric Dany Urasenga (Captain)
Unused subs: Joseph Rugerinyange (G.K), Faustin Ndikumana, Blanchard Ngabonziza, Benjamin Gasongo, Raoul Vyamungu