By Spy Uganda
Uganda’s hopes of making it to the 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire suffered a setback after they were held to a 1-1 draw by a determined Niger side on Wednesday.
Having lost in the opening group game in the qualifiers against Algeria, the Cranes could not take advantage of their home ground as they were held at home at the St. Mary’s Stadium in Kitende in the Group F game.
The Cranes scored in the first half thanks to Milton Karisa but the lead was cut short in the second half through a Mahamadou Amadou Sabo strike as they shared the spoils.
There were three changes to the Uganda team that got beaten by Algeria as Milutin Micho Sredojevic went for a 4-3-3 formation against the Mena.
Isaac Muleme, Marvin Youngman and Allan Okello paved the way for Aziz Kayondo, Bobosi Byaruhanga and Fahad Bayo in the order in the starting lineup.
The incoming trio Aziz, Bobosi and Bayo played at a familiar territory Kitende where Vipers SC play their home games in the Uganda Premier League. Bobosi is currently at the club while the others are former players.
Niger also had a couple of changes in their team from the game against Tanzania in the last round with teenage goalkeeper Naim Van Attenhoven making way for experienced Daouda Kassaly.
Kassaly was the reason the visiting team conceded just one goal in the first half having made a couple of saves to deny the Cranes who were slightly ahead in terms of possession.
Uganda finally got the breakthrough two minutes from the break after Karisa scored to give them the advantage after connecting a pass from midfielder Bevis Mugabi.
Niger restored parity in the 71st minute through midfielder Mahamadou Amadou Sabo who scored a beautiful goal following a one-two movement with Daniel Sosah.
The visitors came close to getting the winning goal of the match but Issa Djibrilla’s attempt was stopped by goalkeeper Charles Lukwago in stoppage time.
Algeria continues to lead Group F despite playing just a match whereas Niger moved to second place with two points followed by Tanzania and Uganda.
Uganda and Tanzania face each other in the crunchy Eastern Africa derby in the next round of fixtures and Algeria will take on Niger in a double-header in September.