URA FC have bowed out of the CAF Confederation Cup at the second preliminary round in agonizing fashion after losing 1-0 away to Al Masry at the Borg El Arab Stadium, Alexandria in Egypt.
In the game played on Saturday, October 23, the hosts only required Islam Attiya’s first half goal to seal and secure a place in the last qualification stage at the expense of the Tax Collectors who had a full house this time round.
The Uganda Premier League 2020/21 runners-up failed to score a single goal in the fixture over both legs and witnessed their Egyptian opponents’ uncontested clean sheets only to deliver where required.
Unlike the game at the St. Mary’s stadium, Kitende last week, URA FC team manager Sam Timbe had the luxury of picking from a host of players who had shrugged off their Covid-19 infections. He made up to four changes.
Steven Mukwala and Cromwell Rwothomio returned to lead the frontline with the support of the skipper Shafik Kagimu right behind them. All the three had returned positive Covid-19 results last week.
Benjamin Nyakoojo who had started the first leg on the bench was added in URA’s central defence to partner Najib Fesali as Derrick Ndahiro and Ashraf Mandela maintained their positions at left and right full-back respectively.
Meanwhile, Hudu Mulikyi, Ivan Sserubiri, Ronald Kigongo and Davis Sali who all started the home game for URA were dropped to join Mikidadi Ssenyonga and Arafat Galiwango on the bench.
Goalkeeper James Alitho, Moses Sseruyidde, Hudu Mulikyi and Living Kabon completed URA’s bench for this away encounter that had a lot to fight for. Vianne Sekajugo did not make the bench.
Al Masry’s intention to score first was clear from the start and at just 19 minutes of play, Islam Attiya forced a brilliant save off URA custodian Nafian Alionzi to deny the hosts the opener.
The state of affairs was to however change soon because two minutes later, Attiya put the hosts in front with a composed finish beyond the reach of Alionzi.
Kagimu wanted to respond immediately to the deficit with a great long-range shot that unfortunately went over begging. This was before Fesali got booked in the 24th minute with pressure mounting.
Shortly before the halftime whistle, Rwothomio sprinted upfront to get URA back into the game but was disappointed to see his shot was inches go wide. That was it for the first.
With a lot of work to do in the second half, the Tax Collectors sought a change in the state of affairs, something that saw the less impressive Mukwala pave way for Ssali in the 60th minute to complete their first change of the night.
Ojera would also later make way for Sseruyidde while Kagimu kept witnessing his questions to the opposition receive no answers with the home side dealing with them quite properly.
He would further try towards the 70th minute, forcing the Al Masry custodian into a brilliant save from the near post, the closest the Tax Collectors got within goal sight in the second half.
Kagimu had also just moments earlier fired wide from close range and as well tried his luck from long range but all yielded nothing positive, all went to vanity.
Their job going into this game was scoring at least a goal because any goalscoring draw would have seen them progress to the next round, but to their dismay, ended up losing.
The loss signifies the end of the road for the only representatives from the pearl of Africa that were left in continental competitions since Express FC had their own story in the Champions League end similarly.
How both teams lined up
URA starting XI: Nafian Alionzi, Ashraf Mandela, Derrick Ndahiro, Najib Fesali, Benjamin Nyakoojo, Patrick Mbowa, Shafik Kagimu (C), Joackiam Ojera, Saidi Kyeyune, Steven Mukwala and Cromwell Rwothomio
Subs: James Alitho, Moses Sseruyidde, Hudu Mulikyi, Mikidadi Ssenyonga, living Kabon, Ronald Kigongo, Davis Sali and Arafat Galiwango
Al Masry starting XI: Ahmed Masoud, K Eleraky, A Shedid, A Moussa, A Shousa, F Shawky, Elmarghany Ali, Eze Emeka, H Ali, M Anttar, Islam Attiya, A Amutu
Subs: Mohamed Essam, Mohamed Elsayed, Karim Mahmoud, Ziad Farag, Ahmed Mohamed, Ali Hussein and Abdel Hamid.