In Hasifah Nassuna, Uganda has a player that has made a habit of scoring against the Ethiopians – just that her goals have never put Crested Cranes on the winning side of these encounters.
That is why when the sides meet today in Group A of the 2019 Cecafa Women Challenge Cup at Chamazi Stadium in Dar es Salaam - Tanzania, the task for the Crested Cranes is to improve on their defensive display.
The past six encounters between the sides have produced 20 goals with Uganda conceding 13 of those.
Nassuna scored in a 3-2 loss in Addis Ababa during Uganda’s failed bid to qualify for the 2020 Olympics. Before that she had also scored in a 4-1 loss during the second edition of the Cecafa Cup in Njeru in 2016.
Before her, her mother Annet Nakimbigwe had also scored in a 2-2 draw in 2002 as Uganda failed to qualify for the Africa Women’s Nations Cup (AWCON) qualifiers after a 2-0 loss in Addis. That match in Addis was Ethiopia’s first international while Uganda, on the other end, had been active since 1998 when they were ousted by Egypt in the AWCON qualifiers then.
Current Crested Cranes fitness coach Olive Mbekeka, joined Nakimbugwe on the scoresheet at home then and should be a huge reference point in the team’s dressing room today.
Fortunately, for Uganda, there is also a 2-1 win from last year’s Cecafa in Rwanda – where Uganda finished second – that they can look to for inspiration.
Defenders Yudaya Nakayenze and Grace Aluka scored from set pieces as an organized and disruptive Ugandan side halted Ethiopia.
Uganda are fresh from Sunday’s 13-0 win over hapless debutants Djibouti. But the five goals from Juliet Nalukenge, hattricks from Fazila Ikwaput and Hasifah Nassuna plus goals from Fauziah Najjemba and Amina Nabaabi could count for nought if the Crested Cranes do not register another win against Ethiopia to book a place in the semis.
On Sunday, Ethiopia lost 2-0 to Kenya – who should seize more advantage when they play Djibouti today.