Burundi 1-1 Uganda
One of the oldest clichés in football is ‘never change a winning team’. Nonetheless, when coaches change their team, they seek vindication for their decision as Bobby Williamson might have learned last evening.
Striker Henry Kisekka repaid Williamson’s faith, scoring the only goal as Uganda Cranes earned a 1-all draw against Burundi in the first leg of the Championship of African Nations (CHAN) at Prince Loius Rwagasore stadium in Bujumbura.
Peter ‘Crouch” Ssenyonjo failed to overcome his fitness woes which forced one change (Kisekka) from the team that beat Tanzania’s Taifa Stars 3-2 in an international friendly in Mwanza almost two weeks ago.
Kisekka’s goal came in the 19th minute through an exquisite half-volley which left Burundian goalkeeper Antoine Bakevya helpless.
But Cranes’ lead lasted only five minutes as the home side responded with a stunning goal from midfielder Pierre Kwizera, who picked a loose pass from Owen Kasule to chip over a flat-footed Hamza Muwonge.
The high tempo start left Williamson impressed. “It was a fair result. We started very well but faded in the second half. Some players were affected by playing on artificial turf for the first time,” the Scot told Daily Monitor after the final whistle.
Ahead of the second leg in Kampala in a fortnight, Burundi coach Amars Nyangabo opted to look beyond the result. “We didn’t make our home advantage count. CHAN is one step in building for the future,” Nyangabo, who deployed Claude Nihimana as the lone striker, said. Having lost to Cranes 5-0 and 2-0 in the last two Cecafa tournaments, the result was an improvement for ‘The Swallows’. “Uganda was always going to be a tough opponent but we are making progress,” Nyangabo noted.
Kisekka could have won the game in the second half when he smartly chested the ball but his shot was saved by Bakevya before the former limped off to be replaced by Bruno Olobo. It was the only substitution Williamson made in the game. “An away draw is a good result anywhere in football but we cannot sit back and defend,” Williamson noted.
Cranes hang on late as Nihimana’s shot crept past an on-rushing Muwonge only for left back Godfrey Walusimbi to clear off the line in the 56th minute. An off-colour Owen Kasule was a relieved man as his misplaced pass went to Kwizera but Isaac Isinde forced the Burundian to shoot wide from eight yards.
H. Muwonge, S. Masaba, G. Walusimbi, I. Isinde, E. Ssali, O. Kasule, M. Mudde, S. Juma, S. Matovu, H. Kisekka (B. Olobo), T. Odur