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Cranes fall to South Africa, COSAFA dream put to bed

Uganda Cranes’ Dan Sserunkuma (R) tries to get past a South African defender on Tuesday. (PHOTO/AGENCY)

COSAFA Cup 2019-Plate Semi final
South Africa 1(4)-1(2) Uganda
Princes Magogo Stadiam, Durban
Tuesday, 04-06-2019

The Uganda Cranes team currently in South Africa were dumped out of the COSAFA Cup on Tuesday afternoon.

Having lost to Lesotho on Saturday and dropped to the Plate competition, Abdallah Mubiru’s side were once again on the losing end as hosts, South Africa defeated them 4-2 on penalties following a 1-1 draw in normal time.

After a goalless first 45 minutes, the Cranes took the lead thanks to 2017/18 StarTimes Uganda Premier top scorer Dan Sserunkuma.

The hosts would however equalize 18 minutes to the end through Luther Singh to send the game into sudden death.

Like it was the case on Saturday, the Cranes once again failed to convert most of their penalties as South Africa progressed to the Plate finals.

Uganda started the game strongly, looking dangerous especially when going forward.

Inside the opening 7 minutes, Mustapha Kizza sent a low cross into the area but Sserunkuma could not connect with it, as the forward arrived late.

Two minutes later, South Africa were forced into an early substitution as Jamie Webber replaced the injured Sam Bongani.

It was all Uganda in the first 10 minutes. Sserunkuma played-in Juma Balinya but the Police FC forward could not find the back of the net despite standing a few yards away from the goal-line.

After the early scare, Bafana Bafana started growing into the game and on 17 minutes, they hit the cross bar through Keanu Cupido.

At the half hour mark, Nicholas Kasozi tried his luck from distance but his effort went wide of the target.

At the end of the opening half, Uganda were looking the better side but still lacked the cutting edge infront of goal.

At the start of the second half, Allan Kayiwa was introduced in place of Michael Birungi as the Cranes searched for the opening goal.

It would eventually come two minutes after the restart through Sserunkuma who had looked dangerous all day long.

Uganda got two chances in quick succession, to double their lead but it was not to be. First Balinya saw a shot pushed out for a corner by the Bafana Bafana custodian before Isaac Isinde’s goal bound header, from the resultant kick, was saved comfortably.

Twenty nine (29) minutes before the end, Balinya wasted Uganda’s best chance to seal the game as he rounded the goal keeper but could only find the side net with his effort.

Sensing that the game may be slipping out of their hands, South Africa went onto the offensive.

After two near-misses, the host would eventually pull level. Singh shot powerfully from a narrow angle and managed to beat Charles Lukwago in the Cranes goal to level the scores at 1-1.

In response, Bright Anukani was introduced in place of Balinya as the Cranes went in search of a second goal.

However, it was South Africa who nearly won it at the death but Lukwago produced a stunning souble save to ensure the game heads into the shoot-outs.

In the penalties, Mustapha Kizza and KCCA FC teammate Muzamir Mutyaba missed their kicks with only Shafick Kagimu and Nicholas Kasozi converting for Uganda.

On the other side, South Africa converted all their first four kicks to win the contest 4-2.

The result means South Africa reach the final of the 2019 COSAFA Cup-Plate while Uganda will have to pack their bags and head home.

Uganda Cranes starting XI vs South Africa

Charles Lukwago (G.K), Paul Willa, Mustafa Kizza, John Revita, Isaac Isinde (cpt), Nicholas Kasozi, Michael Birungi, Muzamiru Mutyaba, Shafik Kagimu, Dan Sserunkuma, Juma Balinya.

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