Coach Ayub Khalifan’s U-17 girls got the kind of test they expect from Tanzania when they drew 0-0 with a Kampala Select side in a friendly yesterday at StarTimes Stadium Lugogo.
Uganda play a physically imposing Tanzania side on Sunday in Dar-es-Salaam in the first leg of the first round of the Fifa Women U-17 World Cup qualifiers. And when coaches Moses Nkata and
Ali Zinda were called upon to put together an opposition side to test Khalifan’s side, they went for physique and height.
Shakirah Mutiibwa and Phionah Nabbumba were imposing in midfield while the height of Favour Nambatya troubled Uganda’s defence that now has Grace Aluka in place of the injured Stella Musibika.
“It was a tough test but we now have to think of the important game on Sunday,” Khalifan
It did not help the flow of Uganda’s game that the midfield also has anchor Kevin Nakacwa out.
Her replacement Catherine Nagadya, who usually plays on the wing, was quick to press and close down spaces but did little with the ball at her feet.
“The worry for us is in defence because when it is not steady that affects the flow of the game a bit, we struggle to build from the back,” Khalifan explained.
Ultimately, without enough support from their fullbacks who were sometimes pinned back to help the centrebacks, wingers Fauzia Najjemba Margaret Kunihira were left isolated against the steady Select fullbacks Florence Nazizi and Asia Nakibuuka.
“We did not score but we got good chances so I am still confident in the abilities of our forwards to earn a positive result in the first game.”
Khalifan also threw some responsibility to his squad players. Zainah Nandede and Maureen Namaganda were put on to affect the game midway through the second half - albeit unsuccessfully.
Gloria Namugerwa was also asked to fill in for Nagadya when she ran out of steam at the end while Gillian Akadinda will keep sharing the right-back role with Samalie Nakacwa.