By Edwin Kule Kyle
Uganda U20 Hippos striker Derrick Kakooza’s penalty with four minutes to play sealed the Hippos passage into the quarter finals of the ongoing U20 Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
The Cranes qualified from Group A alongside Cameroon after coming from a goal down to beat hosts Mauritania 2-1 at the Stade Olympique in Nouachott.
The first clinical chance of the game came in the ninth minute when Ivan Asaba was fouled on the edge of the box and the Hippos were awarded a free kick but Aziz Kayondo’s effort was parried away by goalkeeper Mohamed El Mokhtar.
Ten minutes later Isma Mugulusi engineered an attack coordinating with Richard Basangwa who utilised his pace going past a number of bodies and later laid a cross into the box to meet Asaba however his effort was collected by the goalkeeper.
In the 38th minute, the Hippos went behind after Kayondo fouled Ouma Mbareck i side the area with the referee pointing to the spot.
Mauritania captain Silly Sanghare stepped up to send Hippos goalkeeper Jack Komaketch the wrong way as Mauritania took a 1-0 lead i to the halt time break.
The Hippos had all to play for in the final 45 minutes, and showed intent as a swift attack through Basangwa played Steven Sserwadda through on goal but the midfielder’s effort was blocked for a corner kick.
Asaba and Mugulusi did well with drives into the box, but failed to find a teammate with their cut backs as the search for a leveller became tense.
The Hippos did draw level at the hour mark through Sserwadda whose low shot beat El Mokhtar into the bottom corner after Samuel Ssenyonjo did well to hold up play and set up his teammate.
Two minutes after finding an equaliser, Morley Byekwaso made a double substitute introducing Ivan Eyam and Najib Yiga who replaced Basangwa and Asaba respectively.
Yiga had an opportunity to put the Hippos ahead, but failed to control the ball well before he was substituted for Kakooza after spending less tha 25 minutes on the field of play.
Kakooza then produced the moment that decided the game after the referee pointed to the spot following a handball by Muhammad Sarr. The forward stepped up to bury the resultant penalty with virtually his first touch of the ball.
The Hippos will play Burkina Faso in the quarter finals on February 26 at the Stade Municipal de Nouadhibou.
Mauritania XI: Mohamed El Mokhtar (GK), Mohamed Sarr, Mohamed Sidi Ahmed, Abderrahmane Chighaly, Oumar Mbareck, Mohamed Diop, Bilal Elmokhtar, Adama Diop, Silly Sanghare (C), Abou Oumar Diallo, Amar Haidara
Uganda XI: Jack Komakech (GK), Abdu Azizi Kayondo, Musa Ramathan, Gavin Kizito Mugweri (C), Kenneth Semakula, Steven Sserwadda, Isma Mugulusi, Asaba Ivan, Richard Basangwa, Bobosi Byaruhanga, Samuel Ssenyonjo