By Spy Uganda
Kampala: Uganda Crested Cranes out-witted Ethiopia 2-0 in the opening leg of the 2022 Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWCON) qualifier at the St Mary’s Stadium, Kitende on Wednesday, October 20, 2021.
A goal in each half from Riticia Nabbosa and Fauzia Najjemba spurred the Uganda women national team in a game played behind closed doors. Nabbosa set the ball rolling with an early strike as early as the second minute.
The Lady Doves player composed herself to slot the ball past the advancing goalkeeper Balcha Bargena Tarikua after a cross from the left flank by Sumaya Komuntale.
Uganda remained the dominant side for long spells of the opening half and Margret Kunihira posed all sorts of provocations and questions for the visitors’ backline.
Defender Getenet Mekonnen was called upon to clear a dangerous delivery by Kunihira in the 6th minute.
At the quarter-hour mark, Hasfa Nassuna shot from distance but it was a routine collection for goalkeeper Bargena.
Three minutes later, Bargena saved off Sandra Nabweteeme after a decent quick counter-attack. Ethiopia’s first real threat came in the 20th minute through skipper Loza Abera Geinore who shot wide of goal after a wall pass exchange with Ember Adisu Asfaw.
Nabbosa was called off towards the half-hour mark with an injury and Shamirah Nalugya took his place.
Senaf Wakuma Demise had a shot inside the goal area saved by Uganda’s goalkeeper Ruth Aturo before kingpin defender Shadia Nankya blocked Medina Awol Busser’s shot for a corner-kick well saved.
Five minutes upon restart of the second half, forward Juliet Nalukenge replaced Nabweteme in Uganda Crested Cranes’ second change, quickly followed by Sheebah Zalwango’s introduction for a silent Hasfa Nassuna.
Nalukenge quickly got involved in the action and won a free kick after she was blocked by veteran defender Kanko Maskerem.
With 18 minutes to play, Kunihira was had turned a complete thorn in the flesh of the opposition had a shot successfully blocked by Hasabe.
Uganda Crested Cranes sealed the game with the second game in the the76th minute when Fauzia Najjemba headed home a telling Zalwango cross from the right-wing.
Ethiopia called for two quick changes inside the final 10 minutes; Bogale Boyzo Senayt and Mesay Temesgen Tanga were introduced for Hiwot Dengiso Buwoli and Medina Awol Busser respectively.
Hard tackling midfielder Joan Nabirye (Uganda) was booked for a late challenge and the free-kick execution from the resultant kick by Tanga was a routine collection for goalkeeper Aturo.
Nalukenge missed the opportunity to register her name on the score-sheet after tapping high and over a telling delivery from Kunihira on the right flank in the 84th minute.
Ethiopia made a late-late change when Rediet Assresahagn Matios was introduced for Demise Senaf Wakuma as time ran down for Uganda’s first leg home victory.
The two countries will face each other in the return leg that will be played on Tuesday, 26th October 2021 in Addis Ababa. The successful country (win on aggregate over the two legs) will make it to the next round to face either Kenya or South Sudan.