Uganda, Rwanda start on wrong footing

A file photo of Uganda Cranes players going through drills. 

KAMPALA- Uganda and Rwanda left themselves a mountain to climb after the East African rivals played out a goalless draw in Douala, Cameroon on Monday night.

The result left them trailing African Nations Championship (Chan) defending champions, Morocco - who edged Togo 1-0 in the night's first game.

Morocco top Group C on three points, with the Cranes and Rwanda's Amavubi Stars sharing one apiece. Togo have none.

Morocco can now qualify to the quarterfinals if they beat Rwanda in their next game on Friday, but the Wasps can also turn their fortunes.

The Cranes also have a chance to get off the mark against tournament debutants Togo on the same day.

Uganda commanded better possession of the ball overall but the Rwandans had more incisive takes at the Cranes goal.

Beyond the uninspiring display, Milton Karisa's injury after just 11 minutes was perhaps Uganda's biggest loss of the night.

Starting as the lead man in attack, Karisa came off worse in what appeared to be a pulled hamstring after the forward's drive outside the box.

His replacement, Brian Aheebwa, almost opened Uganda's deadlock on 23 minutes but his long range drive was steered wide for an unfruitful corner.

The moment of the game was produced by Rwanda attacker Muhadjiri Hakizimana, the number 10 turning two Ugandans in one spin before beating Mustafa Mujuzzi - only for his pile-driver to ricochet off the crossbar.

Amavubi captain Jacques Tuyisenge also had his header crash off the upright on the stroke of half time, Charles Lukwago fully beaten in Uganda's goal.

Cranes coach Johnny McKinstry's side lacked balance in the middle, with Shafik Kagimu starting in front of the back four and Karim Watambala and Bright Anukani ahead of him.

The Northern Irishman introduced experienced Tonny Mawejje for Anukani and forward Ben Ocen for left winger Viane Ssekajugo at half time.

But it was still a lethargic return, with Joachim Ojera the one probing more from the right.

The URA forward did have a chance to prod home but Rwanda goalkeeper Olivier Kwizera was quick to reclaim the ball he had spilled off a corner.

The two had to settle for a point apiece in the end.

Uganda Cranes XI

Charles Lukwago, Aziz Kayondo, Mustafa Mujuzzi (C) Paul Mbowa, Paul Willa, Shafik Kagimu, Karim Watambala, Bright Anukani (Tonny Mawejje), Viane Sekajugo (Ben Ocen), Joachim Ojera, Milton Karisa (Brian Aheebwa)

Rwanda Amavubi Stars XI

Olivier Kwizera, Emmanuel Imanishimwe, Ange Mutsinzi, Jacques Tuyisenge (C), Muhadjiri Hakizimana, Rashid Kalisa, Fitina Omborenga, Thierry Manzi, Olivier Niyonzima, Dominique Savio Nshuti, Jean Bertrand Iradukunda

Monday Group C results

Uganda 0-0 Rwanda

Morocca 1-0 Togo

Next group games (LIVE on StarTimes, KBC)

January 22

Uganda vs Togo, 10pm

Morocco vs Rwanda, 10pm

January 26

Uganda vs Morocco, 10pm

Togo vs Rwanda, 10pm

Total Chan Groups

GROUP A: Cameroon, Mali, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe

GROUP B: Libya, DR Congo, Congo, Niger

GROUP C: Rwanda, Uganda, Morocco, Togo

GROUP D: Zambia, Guinea, Namibia, Tanzania