Uganda Cranes are one point away from qualifying for the round 16 at the 2019 Total Africa Cup of Nations after the one all draw with Zimbabwe on Wednesday at Cairo International Stadium.
Emmanuel Okwi and Khama Billiat scored for Uganda and Zimbabwe respectively in a thrilling game that left Uganda gasping for their breath.
Just like the 1-0 loss to Egypt, Zimbabwe did every right apart from extending their lead in a game they either lacked sharpness in front of goal or when they did, supernatural powers saved the Cranes.
In a game played under 38.9° Celsius and humidity of 20%, you would struggle to get a standout player in the red stripe.
It was Uganda who got the bragging rights after just 12 minutes, Khalid Aucho picked up Abdu Lumala, the latter’s solo run and shot forced a save out of George Chigova but not far away from Okwi who tapped it home.
Five minutes to the break, Obvious Karuru broke away from Mugabi committed the space and picked up Billiat who connected with his right to level matters.
In the 67th minute, Zimbabwe thought they had got into the lead only for Onyango to clear the ball off the line, proving why he is Africa’s number one goalkeeper.
Ronald Mukiibi in his first start together with Hassan Wasswa at the heart of defense struggled to keep Knowledge Musona, Billiat, and Michael Kamusoko at bay.
Khalid Aucho and Mike Azira looked out of shape all time which forced Uganda to lose the necessary shape going forward.
Azira was replaced by Taddeo Lwanga midway the second half as Allan Kyambadde also came on for Okwi.
Kaddu had an opportunity to take Uganda into the lead but his volleyball off Lumala’s cross went wide as Uganda held off Zimbabwe until the final whistle.
Uganda will need to pick at least a point off Egypt when the two sides meet in the last group game on June 30th at the same venue to advance.
Uganda’s starting XI: Denis Onyango, Bevis Mugabi, Godfrey Walusimbi, Hassan Wasswa, Ronald Mukiibi, Khalid Aucho, Mike Azira (Taddeo Lwanga), Faruku Miya ( Timothy Awany), Abdu Lumala, Emmanuel Okwi (Allan Kyambadde), Patrick Kaddu
Unused Subs: Jamal Salim, Robert Odongkaraka, Murushud Juuko, Kizito Luwagga, Derrick Nsibambi, Allan Kateregga, Nico Wadada, Isaac Muleme