By Frank Kamuntu
Tito Okello Odong was on target as South Sudan registered a memorable 1-0 victory over Uganda Cranes during the AFCON 2021 qualifiers at Nyayo National Stadium, in Nairobi yesterday.
Okello, one of the nationalized players on South Sudan’s team converted a 35th-minute penalty. The penalty arose after a foul in the forbidden area by defender Halid Lwaliwa in the goal area.
Moments before the goal, Uganda Cranes had lost a man when Khalid Aucho received marching off orders from Benin FIFA Referee Djindo Louis Houngnandande for a professional foul.
Uganda Crane’s most clear chance at goal came in the second half through Faruku Miya’s free-kick that hit the crossbar and bounce onto the line.
South Sudan also lost a player when second-half substitute Musa Abdallah was red-carded for a foul on Emmanuel Arnold Okwi. In the game proper, it was a game of balanced moments.
Makuweth Wol had a 22nd-minute shot on target that was easily tamed by Captain Denis Onyango and two minutes later, Nicholas Wakiro Wadada delivered a teasing an inviting cross that was not met by anyone.
Towards the half-hour mark, Faruku Miya’s free-kick nearly missed the target from 30 yards and from here South Sudan gained a numerical advantage in the 33rd minute when Aucho whistled down Wol near the goal area.
It was South Sudan’s joy again in the 35th minute as Wol was brought down by Lwaliwa in the penalty area.
Tito Okello, currently employed at Gor Mahia struck the resultant penalty kick in the net, sending Onyango the wrong way.
Uganda Cranes’ technical bench immediately reacted with a tactical substitution of Kizito Luwagga who was rested for midfielder Mike Azira in the 40th minute.
The final piece of the action for the opening half witnessed Tito Okello combine with Wol Makuweth but the ball sailed out of play and when the second half kicked off, Cranes further made more changes of Debutant Disan Galiwango and Karim Watambala were replaced by Elvis Bwomono and Okwi respectively.
This meant that Cranes shifted to a three-man defense line with Timothy Awany on the left and Bwomono at right-back as Wadada was shifted to right-wing attack.
In the 73rd minute, Miya’s would-be equalizer that hit the crossbar and bounced over the goal line was not indicated by the referee as Uganda sought for a much-needed equalizer in vain.
With victory in sight, South Sudan resorted to delaying tactics and goalkeeper Majak was cautioned for time-wasting with 5 minutes to play.
Deep in added time, Onyango left his goalposts and was involved in a free-kick moment off Miya’s delivery.
Wani got cautioned for a foul on Edrisa Lubega before the referee called for full time, much to the celebrations of the South Sudanese players, fans in the terraces, and elsewhere.