Uganda take a 2-0 advantage to Addis Ababa for the second leg of the first round in Africa’s Fifa Women U-17 World Cup Qualifiers in two weeks time.
Juliet Nalukenge scored a fifth minute header after Fauzia Najjemba flicked a cross from Margaret Kunihira into the captain’s path. Then substitute Catherine Nagadya headed the second in from Najjemba’s cross in the 87th minute as coach Ayub Khalifan’s side saw off Ethiopia in the first leg at Star Times Stadium - Lugogo on Saturday.
In between their goals, Uganda found it difficult to enforce their free-flowing football that saw them win the Cosafa and Cecafa U-17 tournaments last year as the Ethiopians, who also like to dominate games, proved faster and physical.
Left winger Nigist Bekele Haile and midfield enforcer Mesay Temesgen Tanga were biggest thorns in Uganda’s flesh but the steadiness and grit of Khalifan’s defence helped then cope.
“Yes we won but the match was very hard,” Khalifan said in the post-match press conference.
“All we knew about Ethiopia is that their senior team loves a possession-based game. The girls thought the U-17s would not be as good.
After five minutes, we started to drop our rhythm because they were faster and more physical but we shall preach a change of attitude in our camp,” Khalifan added.
Uganda’s World Cup journey is just getting started and should they get past Ethiopia, the physical challenges only get tougher.
Tanzania, whom they are likely to meet in the next round due in March, turned on the energy when they held Uganda to a 1-all draw in the Cecafa tourney last month in Njeru. Ditto Zambia in the draw at the Cosafa tourney in Mauritius.
“The lesson for us is that today’s game was not a regional championship. Everyone who comes for international games registers when they feel they have the muscle to go all the way, and the fact that we knew nothing about them only served to make it more difficult,” Khalifan said.
Uganda, however, received some plaudits from the Ethiopia coach Samuel Abera for their ability to utilise their chances. “I think you can see why Uganda were champions at Cosafa and Cecafa. The difference between us and them is that they use the ball better in the opponent’s box,” Abera, who only had two weeks to prepare his side, said.
Daphine Nyayenga; Samalie Nakacwa, Sumaya Komuntale, Bira Nadunga, Stella Musibika; Shakira Nyinagahirwa, Kevin Nakacwa (Zaitun Namaganda, 72’); Margaret Kunihira, Hadija Nandago (Catherine Nagadya, 62’), Fauzia Najjemba; Juliet Nalukenge.