Cranes make winning return to Namboole

The Uganda Cranes starting team against Botswana. PHOTO/EDDIE CHICCO 

What you need to know:

Substitute Muhammad Shaban connected home with a Dennis Omedi delivery on 74 minutes to hand the Cranes maximum points.

The Cranes marked their return to the Mandela National Stadium in Namboole after a near five year absence with a 1-0 win over Botswana in a 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifying game played on Friday evening.

Substitute Muhammad Shaban connected home with a Dennis Omedi delivery on 74 minutes to hand the Cranes maximum points.

The result puts the Cranes third, level on six points with Algeria, Guinea and Mozambique after three games in the six team group with  Botswana on three points and somalia without a point.

But with the campaign yet to reach its half way point keeping pace with the leaders was as important as putting up an encouraging display in front a half full home crowd starved of international football since late 2019.

The Cranes grew into the game after a slow start with one mazy run from the diminutive playmaker Travis Mutyaba drawing the biggest cheer of the first half.

By then, right back Elvis Bwomono had had a couple of efforts go just wide while Fahad Bayo headed an Allan Okello delivery wide.

The standout player of the game however proved to be debutant Elio Capradossi born in Uganda to an Italian father and Congolese mother whose passing and confidence on the ball helped initiate attacks.

The Cranes improved slightly in the second half playing with more pace after Okello was withdrawn for Rogers Mato at half time as coach Paul Put sought more pace in the wide areas.

It was another substitute Omedi who made the more telling contribution when he dashed onto fellow substitute Bobosi Byaruhanga's pass into the right channel for Shaban to stab home the game's only goal with a near post finish.

The result leaves Group G wide open with wounded Algeria, beaten by Guinea on Thursday the next team to visit Namboole on Monday.