By Spy Uganda
The tournament played on a League format among the six teams and climaxed on Tuesday with Ethiopia coming out top with 15 points, while hosts Uganda finished second with 12 points.
Talk about late moments in sport and the Ethiopian team showed exactly that in the final deciding game against the hosts when they fought from two goals down and one player less after an early red card, but managed to win 3-2 at the FUFA Technical Centre ground in Njeru.
Ethiopia’s first-choice goalkeeper Lorato Eyerusalem was sent off after only six minutes for bringing down Uganda’s captain Fuazia Najjemba who was headed for goal. But Ethiopia’s head coach Firew Hailegebral made a tactical switch pulling out one player and bringing on second choice goalkeeper Demelash Banchayehu.
Hadijah Nandago gave Uganda the lead after 26 minutes with a well taken shot before skipper Fauzia Najjemba increased the lead after 40 minutes. Goalkeeper Banchayehu failed to get a firm grip of Najjemba’s freekick and the ball bounced into the net.
After recess and a pep talk by the coach and Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF) President Esayas Jira, the Ethiopian team returned a different and determined side.
Ridet Assrasahang pulled one back for the Ethiopian team after 50 minutes.
Substitute Ariet Odong who came on and took control of Ethiopia’s attack levelled matters after 78 minutes with a well placed shot leaving Uganda’s goalkeeper Daphine Nyayenga beaten.
Ethiopia’s head coach Firew Hailegebral was also sent off by the referee.
Despite being one player-less the Ethiopian team continued to dominate play and put the Ugandan defenders under a lot of pressure. With eight minutes to the final whistle, Turist Lema slotted in Ethiopia’s third goal.
It was all celebrations after the final whistle as the Ethiopian players were so emotional that they cried in joy. “This has been a very tough game and I thank my team for remaining strong-headed even after we got an early red card,” said Ethiopia’s coach Hailegebral after the match.
Ayub Khalifa Kiyingi, the Ugandan coach said his players had relaxed after taking a first-half lead. “I think my players became too confident and instead failed to play the second half well,” added Kiyingi.
In an earlier match, Burundi came from a goal down to beat Eritrea 2-1. Reha Tesfamichael netted after 2 minutes for Eritrea, but Stephie Mutoni and Peace Niyomwungere made sure Burundi picked maximum points.
Tanzania was also in good form humbling Djibouti 8-0. Aisha Masaka netted seven goals, while Clara Luvanga also got her name on the score sheet.
The top three teams received medals, and the best players were also rewarded. Uganda’s skipper Fauzia Najjemba who finished the tournament with 11 goals scooped the Top scorer’s Award. Uganda’s Daphine Nyayenga was voted Best goalkeeper, while Ethiopia’s Birkea Amare was the Best Player of the tournament.
Auka Gecheo, the CECAFA Executive Director said the tournament has been successful and helped teams that are still in contention in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup qualifiers prepare well.