Uganda deflate Kenya in U-20 World Cup qualifier

Monday September 27 2021
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No free ball. Defender Biira Naddunga (right) keeps her Kenyan opponent at bay during the match on Saturday. PHOTO/FUFA MEDIA

By Makhtum Muziransa

Uganda played the perfect first half to blow away Kenya 7-2 on Saturday in the first leg of their second round Fifa U-20 World Cup qualifier in Nairobi.

Coach Ayub Khalifa’s charges started scoring from the go until deep into stoppage time of the first half to break off with a 6-0 lead.

Juliet Nalukenge showed why Fufa pulled all the stops to fly her in from Cyprus where she recently signed for Apollon Limassol, as she connected with captain Fauzia Najjemba’s cross for the opener in the second minute.

Almost 15 minutes later, she received a long ball from her defence and played it into the path of Margaret Kunihira to shoot into the roof of Kenya goalkeeper Ursula Nasimiyu’s goal for the second.

In the 21st minute, almost a similar move saw Najjemba score Uganda’s third from a rebound as Nasimiyu parried Kunihira’s shot back into play. 

The trio that terrorized defences as Uganda’s U-17 won the Cecafa and Cosafa Cups in 2019 before going on a World Cup qualification run that ended prematurely due to Covid-19 on the shoulder of facing against Cameroon last year was back at it.

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Goals surprise Khalifan

Shortly after, Nalukenge won a penalty after Kenyan captain Peris Oside clattered into her in the box. Shamirah Nalugya stepped up and duly joined the matchsheet.

Nalukenge then doubled her money for Uganda’s fifth in the 35th after cushioning a long ball from her keeper Daphine Nyayenga and then decisively looping it over Nasimiyu. Leftback Sumaya Komuntale then got Uganda’s sixth from a freekick in stoppage time of the first stanza.

“We got the result we wanted but I was also surprised by the number of goals,” Khalifa, who for a moment could not even exactly remember whether they were six or seven, said in the aftermath.

“We should not have conceded but you cannot blame the girls after such a win.” 

Consolation

Uganda tried to control possession without hurting the opponent for most of the second half but that allowed the Kenyan side to save some pride with two consolation goals from Shaylene Opisa in the 61st and 79th minute. But Komuntale ensured the travelling party returned home with a five-goal advantage ahead of the October 8 return leg. The Tooro Queens player fired home with her weaker foot after the Kenyans half-heartedly cleared Nalugya’s corner kick in the 88th minute.

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