Afcon qualification: Uganda Cranes right back in it!
What you need to know:
- Mato combines with Miya for the former to score the winner as Micho’s inspired substitutions resuscitate Uganda’s chances of qualifying for Ivory Coast Afcon 2023
Second half substitute Rogers Mato scored the winner as the Uganda Cranes beat Tanzania 1-0 at the National Stadium, Dar es Salaam to keep alive their Afcon 2023 qualification chances on Tuesday night.
For all the blame apportioned to Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic coming into this one, the under-fire coach made inspired substitutions and they paid off.
Mato, who had come on for Richard Basangwa in a double change that also saw Eammanuel Okwi replaced by Fahad Bayo on 62 minutes, latched onto another substitute Faruku Miya’s through ball to coolly roll the winner past Tanzania goalkeeper Aishi Manula in added time.
Uganda’s first win moves them third and level on four points with second placed Tanzania, who beat the Cranes by the same scoreline last Friday in Egypt.
With Algeria already qualified, Uganda must now beat the Desert Foxes somewhere outside the country in June and pick maximum points from Niger away from home.
However, that is not enough. Uganda will also hope Niger beat Tanzania and Algeria dispatch the Taifa Stars, too.
The first half, apart from Salim Jamal stopping Simon Happygod Msuva’s rasping effort, had both goalkeepers largely unemployed.
The Tanzanians, who had Abdul Suleiman, Msuva and skipper Mbwana Samatta keep Kenneth Ssemakula, Timothy Awany, Halid Lwaliwa and Abdu Aziz Kayondo alert, possessed and passed slightly better.
The Cranes, who started with Isma Mugulusi and Bbobosi Byarunganga alongside Khalid Aucho in place of benched Siraje Ssentamu and Miya in midfield, were rather rushed in possession.
The long break...
The opening 45 minutes were so flat the biggest highlight was the over half an hour stoppage when the game was halted in the 37th minute after some of the floodlights at the National Stadium lost power.
Eventually, the game resumed and the remaining eight minutes were played.
There was little between the two sides in the early part of the second half, forcing Micho to introduce Bayo and Mato for skipper Okwi and Basangwa respectively on 62 minutes.
And the breakthrough...
In between, Tanzania’s attack line had Uganda on the backfoot for sustained periods but Jamal and his backline rode the storm.
Micho threw on Travis Mutyaba for Ochaya on 75 minutes and the youngster threaded a telling pass into the Tanzanian box but the hosts outmuscled Bayo.
With two minutes left, Micho threw his last dice. The Serbian pulled off Mugulusi and Byaruhanga for Steven Mukwala and Miya.
Three minutes later, Micho, his bench and Ugandans were celebrating after Miya threaded a through pass for Mato, the KCCA forward catching the Tanzanians flat footed to coolly roll the ball into the back of the net.
Uganda are not there yet, but they have taken a positive step. A respite! And Thursday’s press conference at Fufa might as well be Micho’s time to give plans for June and September encounters rather than what you anticipated.
Ivory Coast Afcon 2023 Qs
Matchday 4 results
Niger 0-1 Algeria
Group F standings
P W D L GD Pts
Algeria 4 4 0 0 7 12
Tanzania 4 1 1 2 -2 4
Uganda 4 1 1 1 -2 4
Niger 4 0 2 2 -2 2
What Uganda need to qualify
1. Algeria have to beat Niger ✅
2. Uganda beat Tanzania ✅
3. Uganda beat Algeria at home - away from home
4. Niger beat Tanzania
5. Uganda beat Niger
6. Algeria beat Tanzania
Tanzania vs. Niger
Uganda vs. Algeria
Niger vs. Uganda
Algeria vs. Tanzania