The Baby Cranes got into Kenya by bus 10 days ago as the last seeds of the U-20 Barthes Cup in Nairobi. The Ugandans were only there to replace Senegal but have come out with something to smile about after finishing sixth.
Uganda lost 24-11 to Tunisia in the fifth place playoff at the Nyayo National Stadium, but earned automatic qualification for next year’s event.
“We would have preferred fifth place but still Uganda qualifies to play the next Barthes Trophy next year after Finishing sixth,” said captain Daniel Okello, who has been a revelation in Nairobi, receiving plaudits throughout the tournament for his playmaking skills and good boot.
Tunisia scored a try and converted through fly half Mohammed Rihally under two minutes and converted before Okello pulled three back with a penalty.
He was having an awful day with just one penalty converted of a possible five in the first half, Yasin Wasswa temporarily took over the mantle before Okello returned to add another penalty to make it 7-6.
The North African immediately responded with a Mohammed Ali Jilasie try after good set piece play from the scrum. Bel Haddji Youssef got two more tries for Tunisia.
Baby Cranes’ stay in Nairobi started with a 54-20 loss to hosts Kenya, followed by a 26-19 victory over Ivory Coast two days later and ending with defeat against Tunisia.
It has been a story of brilliant first half shows as Uganda has laboured after the break in games.
Coach Richard Lumu blames it on the wanting fitness levels having prepared for three weeks on getting a short notice invitation.