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AFCON 2021: Uganda hold on to pick up draw against Burkina Faso in Ouagadougou

By Shafic Kiyaga

Uganda Cranes held on to pick up a vital point against a relentless Burkina Faso at the 4th August stadium, Ouagadougou, as they got their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualification campaign underway.

The hosts seemed to have done enough homework about the Cranes, and that was on show in the opening exchanges as they set out to attack the Cranes down the left.

The trickery of Jonathan Pitroipa and the pace of Lacina Traore creating openings in behind, right from the start. Joseph Ochaya cleared the ball off the line with the goalkeeper Denis Onyango already beaten in the fifth minute.

Moments later, captain Onyango showed great game reading, diving well to keep out Lacina’s cut back.

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With the Burkinabe bossing possession with their short passes, the Cranes settled for the counter attacks. Deploying a low block, but quickly drawing men forward every time they won back the ball.

It did work for them as they did create themselves a number of opportunities at the other end, especially through the pace of winger Abdu Lumala. But still, they could not come up with a decisive moment.

At the half hour mark, one of the fast breaks almost paid dividends, Lumala and Kaddu combining well before finding Emmanuel Okwi, but the latter was caught in possession.

The Cranes defence which looked shaky at the start but shook off the early nerves, finding their feet to deal with the Burkina Faso attackers.

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The same could not be said for the midfield, Khalid Aucho and Mike Azira were dominated by Charles Kabore, and did as little to thwart the threat from Pitroipa who was running rings around the duo for much of the opening half.

No changes were made at half time, but Cranes coach Jonathan McKinstry delivered a worthy team talk. The Cranes came back stronger and more imposing for the second half.

Patrick Kaddu came close to putting the Cranes close, but he scuffed his effort with the goal at his mercy. Moments later, Emmanuel Okwi came even closer, but his header agonizingly hit the crossbar.

The Cranes’ early dominance in the second half could only last before Burkinabe found their footing in the once again, Pitroipa running the show with a display of an array of skills.

McKinstry ran a couple of changes, introducing Isaac Muleme for Kaddu who looked pedestrian, Nicolas Wadada came on for the tiring Bevis Mugabi, while Okwi was subbed off for Alexis Bakka late on.

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Burkina Faso created a couple of nervous moments but the Cranes defence stood firm to thwart any danger coming their way.

In the end, there was nothing to separate the two sides as they settled for a share of spoils.

Uganda will return home where they host Malawi at the Mandela National Stadium, Namboole, while Burkina Faso make the trip to face South Sudan at a yet to be confirmed venue.

Uganda Cranes XI: Denis Onyango (GK, Captain), Bevis Mugabi (Nico Wadada), Joseph Benson Ochaya, Timothy Denis Awany, Murushid Juuko, Khalid Aucho, Mike Azira, Faruku Miya, Emmanuel Arnold Okwi ( Alexis Bakka ), Abdul Lumala, Henry Patrick Kaddu (Isaac Muleme)

Unused Subs: Robert Odongkara (GK), Charles Lukwago (GK), Hassan Wasswa, Halid Lwaliwa, Taddeo Lwanga, William Kizito, Allan Kyambadde, Fahad Bayo, Allan Okello

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