U-20s struggle for goals

Thursday September 16 2021
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Nalugya (background) could be primed for a more controlled role alongside Nyinagahirwa (R), than an attacking one further forward, in Khalifan’s U-20 midfield. PHOTO/MAKHTUM MUZIRANSA

By Makhtum Muziransa

Coach Ayub Khalifan is still cracking his head to find goal poachers ahead of the Fifa U-20 Women World Cup second round qualifiers double-header between Uganda and Kenya.

Khalifan’s side who visit Kenya on the weekend of September 23-25 and host the return leg anywhere between October 7-9, tested their mettle against the senior team Crested Cranes – which is preparing for the Cosafa Championship in South Africa – on Tuesday and lost 1-0.

Laki Otandeka’s well weighted cross was met and headed home by Resty Nanziri in the 63rd minute to settle a game that the U-20 dominated at Fufa Technical Centre – Njeru, where the two sides are camped.

“It was a very impressive performance even though we lost the game,” Khalifan said at the end. 

“We need to work a lot on the finishing.  I need to identify the individuals that should be sharper and clinical in the box,” he added.

From U-17 upwards
Khalifan carried the entire lot - bar captain Juliet Nalukenge, that he worked with to the final qualifying round for the 2020 Fifa U-17 Women’s World Cup, in which they had to play Cameroon for a place in India before the everything was halted by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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Nalukenge, Khalifan’s star player all the way from Kawempe Muslim SS since 2016, secured a deal to play professional football in Cyrpus with  first division and Uefa Champions League outfit Apollon Limassol.

Nalukenge made a formidable partnership with Fauzia Najjemba, who has now been named U-20 captain, which led Uganda to Cosafa and Cecafa U-17 cup triumphs, and through the qualifiers.

Najjemba, however, has always flourished when sharing top responsibility with someone – just like she did with Shamirah Nalugya at Isra Academy. At Kampala Queens, which she joined in 2019 and immediately took over the captaincy and lead scoring roles, the forward has struggled.

Khalifan, who will give Nalugya a playmaking role alongside Shakirah Nyinagahirwa, will have to find Najjemba a partner among the seven other forwards; Joan Ainembabazi, Bernadette Namwenge, Kamiyati Naigaga, Eva Naggayi, Joweria Nagadya – who just returned from Caf Champions League qualifiers in Nairobi with the Lady Doves, plus the duo of Zaituni Namaganda and Hadijah Nandago that played cameo roles in the U-17s campaigns.

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