By Spy Uganda
Nairobi: Uganda Cranes kicked off FIFA World Cup 2022 campaign with an away point off the Kenya Harambee Stars during group E at the Nyayo National Stadium, Nairobi.
The two countries huffed and puffed throughout the 90 minutes of the well-contested game played under closed doors because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Uganda Cranes started the game on a low tone with an untimely injury to defender Halid Lwaliwa after just five minutes into the game.
Express Football Club captain Enock Walusimbi was introduced at the heart of defence.
The visitors had the inaugural attempt on target in the 20th minute from midfielder Bobosi Byaruhanga in his first-ever start for the national senior team.
Three minutes later, Joseph Ochaya shot off target from 25 yards as Uganda stabilized.
Moses Waiswa had a free-kick fly wide towards the half-hour before Milton Karisa was brought down on the edge of the goal area for a contestable penalty decision.
Uganda Cranes lost team captain Emmanuel Arnold Okwi with an injury towards the very end of the first half and it needed fresh legs of Derrick Nsibambi at the start of the final stanza.
There came a double change in the 66th minute when Mustafa Kizza and winger Ibrahim Orit were pushed on for Ochaya and Waiswa respectively.
Later, Yunus Sentamu took over Milton Karisa’s place with less than 10 minutes to play.
Uganda earned their first point of the campaign that head coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic was contented with.
‘‘The campaign is officially off and a point is good enough. We still have to iron out goal scoring issues and at one stage, I believe we would have been given a penalty,” Micho noted.
The team returns home on Friday afternoon at 2 PM aboard Ethiopian Airlines and preparations for the Mali game (at St Mary’s Stadium, Kitende) take immediate effect.
Uganda Cranes XI (Shirt Numbers in Brackets):
Charles Lukwago (18), Denis Iguma (KCCA, Uganda), Isaac Muleme (20), Halid Lwaliwa (15), Murushid Juuko (4), Khalid Aucho (8), Bobosi Byaruhanga (6), Moses Waiswa Ndohondi (23), Milton Karisa (13), Emmanuel Arnold Okwi – Captain, 7), Joseph Benson Ochaya (2)
Isima Bin Rashid Watenga (19), Joel Mutakubwa (1), Innocent Wafula Esimu (14), Gavin Kizito Mugweri (5), Abdul Aziizi Kayondo (3), Ibrahim Orit (11), Richard Basangwa (22), Steven Desse Mukwala (10), Derrick Nsibambi (9), Yunus Sentamu (17), Mustapha Kizza (CF Montréal, Canada), Enock Walusimbi (Express, Uganda)
Center Referee: Ismail Mahmood Ali Mahmood (Sudan)
1st Assistant Referee: Ibrahim Abdallah Mohammed (Sudan)
2nd Assistant Referee: Abdel Gabar Muhammed (Sudan)
Fourth Official: Fadul Sabri Muhammad (Sudan)
Referee Assessor: Labrosse Jean Claude (Seychelles)
Match Commissioner: Solomon Gebre Selassie (Ethiopia)
Covid-19 Officer: Wycliffe Makanga (Kenya)