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Football

Cranes hang on to register vital point off Zimbabwe

Emmanuel Okwi (7) scores Uganda’s goal against Egypt on Wednesday. (Photos/FUFA)

AFCON 2019
Uganda 1-1 Zimbabwe
Cairo International Stadium, Cairo
Wednesday, 26-06-2019

The Uganda Cranes maintained top spot in group A, drawing 1-1 with Zimbabwe at the Cairo International Stadium on Wednesday evening.

In a game that saw both sides miss a host of opportunities, Uganda took the lead through Emmanuel Okwi before Karma Billiat equalized for Zimbabwe as few minutes before halftime.

With too much at stake, both sides looked cautious at the start.

With the first real chance of the game, Uganda took the lead inside 12 minutes. Khalid Aucho played in Abdu Lumala who raced into the box and fired straight at George Chigova who spilled the ball into the path of Emmanuel Okwi to tap into an empty net.

Zimbabwe was struggling to cut open the Ugandan defence but on 18 minutes, Khama Billiat found space behind the Cranes back line, turned an crossed but could not pick out a teammate as the ball went out for a goal kick.

Two minutes later, Billiat tried to play in Knowledge Musona instead of shooting at goal and his decision turned out to be the wrong one.

The Warriors were starting to assert authority and on 23 minutes, Musona missed a glorious opportunity to level matters. The forward was played in by Billiat, turned but blazed over with Denis Onyango crumbling.

Chances were coming thick and fast for Zimbabwe as moments later, Billiat found himself unmarked in the area but pulled his effort agonizingly wide of the target.

The pressure was mounting on the Cranes and on 34 minutes, Billiat sent a first time cross into the area but Onyango was alert to push the ball away from danger before it reached Karuru.

With four minutes to play, Zimbabwe equalized. Karuru was played in through on goal, laid the ball into the path of Billiat who flicked it past Onyango to level the scores at 1-1.

Zimbabwe’s Billiat (11) is sandwiched by Uganda’s Godfrey Walusimbi (15) and Mike Azira (23) as the two sides shared spoils on Wednesday.

By the end of the first half, both sides looked contented with the scores, letting Uganda have possession inside their own half.

Five minutes into the second half, Musona missed a sitter to put Zimbabwe in front as he hit the wood-work after he was played in by Karuru while facing an empty goal with Onyango beaten.

With Uganda struggling to maintain possession, Vipers’ Tadeo Lwanga was introduced in place of the ineffective Mike Azira on the hour mark.

In response, the Warriors also called for a first change four minutes later with Evans Rusike replacing Talent Chawapiwa.

On 68 minutes, Rusike nearly made instant impact four minutes after coming on. The lanky striker was played in by Billiat and tapped first time but his effort could not cross the line as Onyango recovered and pushed it away at the second attempt after the initial effort crept under the custodian.

With 18 minutes to play, Okay was brought off and replaced by Allan Kyambadde.

Moments later, Farouk Miya sent a few kick from 25 narrowly wide after Kyambadde was fouled.

On 75 minutes, Kaddu squandered a glorious opportunity to possibly win this game from Uganda. The KCCA FC striker pounced on a lose ball inside the area after good work down the right by Lumala before blazing over with the goal at his mercy.

Lumala (Left) in action against Zimbabwe on Wednesday evening.

With nine minutes to play, Uganda got another chance to win it but it just couldn’t be as Bevis Mugabi shot wide after he was played in by Tadeo Lwanga following Zimbabwe’s inability to deal with a Mutation corner.

Kaddu once again failed to hit the target after he was played in by Godfrey Walusimbi, making a mess of his effort before the Warriors cleared out for a fruitless corner.

In an attempt to see out the game, Timothy Awanyi was introduced for Miya with just over a minute to play.

The last chance of the game fell to Musona but the Anderlect striker shot wide of the target from a glorious position just outside the area.

In the end, both sides held on to earn what would prove to be a vital point.

The result means Uganda maintain top spot in Group A with four points, one ahead of Egypt who take on DR congo later on Wednesday.

For Zimbabwe, they now have one point from one game and will have to win their final game against DR congo and pray other results go their way so as to reach the last 16.

How both teams started

Uganda XI: Denis Onyango, Bevis Mugabi, Ronald Mukiibi, Hassan Wasswa, Godfrey Walusimbi, Khalid Aucho, Mike Azira, Farouk Miya, Abdu Lumala, Emmanuel Okwi, Patrick Kaddu.

Zimbabwe XI: Chigova, Darikwa, Lunga, Lingani Hedebe, Mudimu, Karuru, Kamusoko, Chawapiwa, Phiri, Musona, Billiat.

The other game played on Wednesday

-Nigeria 1-0 Guinea

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