KAMPALA – It was joy and merry-making in Nouakchott on Saturday as soon as the day’s referee sounded the last whistle, assuring Uganda’s U-20 team – The Hippos a place in the ongoing African Cup of Nation – Afcon.
Uganda sent the hosts – Mauritania packing with a 2-1 win, qualifying as second favourites of group A on six points; three lesser than pool leaders – Cameroon, who had a field day against Mozambique, registering a 4-1.
The Hippos sealed the game with a late penalty through second half substitute – Derrick Kakooza, whom the technical team had introduced, deep in the second half to replace Najib Iga, stepped to convert superbly. The hosts had taken an early lead through Silly Sanghare, who reacted positively, netting from the spot after Uganda’s Aziz Kayondo had fouled Oumar Mbereck in the penalty area. Steven Serwadda had cancelled out Mauritania’s lead at the stroke of half-time.
It’s the first time in history for Uganda to reach the knockout stage of any continental tournament, in the recent past.
In the other group encounter, Cameroon – the eventual, pool leaders on nine points, scored through Eto’o – the son of Cameroonian legend Samuel Eto’o, who had a brace. The young Eto’o scored an excellent free-kick, earlier in the game before adding a penalty for half time to end 2-0.
It was Eto’o’s time to turn a provider when he squared the ball for Kevin-Prince Mila who scored the third for the Young Lions shortly after the break.
Mozambique’s Gianluca Lorenzoni scored to scare-off their opponents but Cameroon were quick to respond with Abdoulaye Yahya making it 4-1.