By Edwin Kyle Kule
Uganda U20s (Hippos) have one foot in the semi-finals of the CECAFA U20 Championships (AFCON U20 zonal qualifiers) after registering an incredible 6-1 victory over Burundi at the Sheikh Amri Abeid Stadium in Arusha on Wednesday.
Hippos coach Morley Byekwaso made three changes to his team, handing starts to Ivan Bogere and Ismail Mugulusi who both grabbed doubles on the day.
Najib Yiga and Joseph Kizza Bukenya scored Uganda’s other goals.
Mugulusi and Bogere started in place of Raymond Onyai and Musa Ramathan who started his two-game suspension following a red card against South Sudan.
Bogere came close in the 16th minute, lashing onto Ivan Asaba’s chipped pass but Burundi’s Pacifique Ndayikeza stood tall to deny the Proline striker.
At the other end, Jack Komaketch pulled off a spectacular save from Eurode Kaneza’s effort to keep the game level following a quick break four minutes to the half hour mark.
The Hippos who were dominant in possession went ahead in the 43rd minute, Bogere capitalising on a defensive error from Burundi to put Uganda in the driving seat. Najib Yiga found a quick second at the stroke of half time.
Bogere completed his double five minutes into the second half. Mugulusi then got his name on the scoresheet with an hour played from an Asaba assist.
Mugulusi then bagged a beauty for his second, curling his effort beyond Ndayikeza as the Hippos ran riot.
Mugulusi turned provider for midfielder Ivan Joseph Bukenya to score the sixth goal of the game.
Kevin Icoyitungiye found the consolation for Burundi Under -20 in the added time.
Uganda go top of Group B with four points, and will wait for the final group game between Burundi and South Sudan on Friday, November 27, to know their fate in the tournament.
South Sudan will have to better the Hippos result if they are to leapfrog them into first place.
The top teams from all three groups will earn direct spots in the semi-finals together with the best second placed team from the groups.
The two finalists will then qualify to represent the region in the 2021 AFCON U20 finals scheduled to take place in Madagascar.
Uganda U-20 XI: Jack Komakech (GK), Gavin Kizito Mugweri (C), Aziz Kayondo, Kenneth Semakula, Isma Mugulusi, Bobosi Byaruhanga, Steven Sserwadda, Richard Basangwa, Najib Yiga, Ivan Bogere, Ivan Asaba
Burundi U-20 IX: Pacifique Ndayikeza (GK), Niyera Japhet, Jaspin Nshimirima (C), Piclare Irakoze, Elihondi Nsengiyumva, Darcy Irakoze, Alidou Hakizimana, Baros Tambwe, Theodre Ngabirano, Eurade Kaneza, Abidi Inezah