Uganda’s national football team, the Cranes, secured a 2-0 victory against Niger in Morocco on Thursday night. Aziz Kayondo and Joseph Ochaya scored Uganda’s goals during the first half of the match. However, this triumph wasn’t enough to secure their spot in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals.
The Taifa Stars of Tanzania, in a goalless draw in Algiers against Algeria, clinched the qualification alongside the North African team. Algeria finished the campaign with an impressive 16 points from six matches, while Tanzania ended with eight points, one more than Uganda.
The future of Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic is likely to be a topic of discussion, as he is in the final year of his contract. Although Uganda performed admirably in this match, their earlier lackluster performances in the tournament proved costly.
In Marrakech, Niger appeared to be the more adventurous team, with captain Youssouf Oumarou Aliou leading a passing routine across the pitch. On two occasions, Niger posed a threat to Cranes goalkeeper Salim Jamal Magoola, but Kayondo’s crucial tackle and intervention kept the danger at bay.
Against the run of play, Uganda took the lead. The Cranes attacked through the left wing, with Kayondo delivering a perfect cross into Niger’s penalty box. The ball eluded everyone, including Niger’s goalkeeper Naim Van Attenhoven, and found the back of the net, giving Uganda a 1-0 lead at 17 minutes.
This victory brought Uganda’s points tally to seven, but they remained below Tanzania, who were drawing against Algeria.
Niger maintained their ball possession throughout the game, while Uganda pressed forward desperately to establish a buffer. They succeeded when Niger failed to clear their lines, and Ochaya’s deflected shot from Milton Karisa made it 2-0 in favor of Uganda at 39 minutes.
In the second half, Niger continued to dominate ball possession, but Uganda launched more direct attacks. However, their forward, Fahad Bayo, struggled to gain control of the ball. On the 58th minute, Bayo and Faruku Miya were substituted with Richard Basangwa and Rogers Mato as Micho aimed to maintain their momentum.
Ochaya, often joining Khalid Aucho and Bobosi Byaruhanga in midfield, attempted a spectacular shot when he noticed the Nigerien goalkeeper off his line, but the ball narrowly missed the target.
Meanwhile, Tanzania managed to hold onto their goalless draw in Algiers, securing their qualification and rendering Uganda’s second win of the campaign inconsequential.
AFCON 2023 Qualifiers – Thursday Results:
- Niger 0-2 Uganda
- Algeria 0-0 Tanzania
Group F Standings:
P W D L GD Pts Algeria 6 5 1 0 8 16 Tanzania 6 2 2 2 -1 8 Uganda 6 2 1 3 -1 7 Niger 6 0 2 4 -5 2