By James Bakama
2015 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifier
Madagascar 2 Uganda 1
UGANDA lost to Madagascar but coach Milutin Sredojevic is confident his troops will beat the Indian Ocean island to a slot at the next Nations Cup qualifiers.
Hamis Kiiza kept Uganda’s hopes alive with a crucial away goal as the Cranes went down 2-1 in Rabemananjara Stadium on Sunday.
“We are happy to have scored an away goal. We struggled especially in the first half because of the weather and the pitch. But they will also struggle in Kampala,” warned Sredojevic.
The Cranes now need just a 1-0 win in the return leg at to advance to the next qualifier where they will be up against the winner from the Mauritania versus Equatorial Guinea preliminaries.
Mauritania won the first leg 1-0 at home on Friday courtesy of a 76 minute Ishmael Dhiakite goal. The North West Africans, just like Madagascar are eyeing their first slot at the finals while Equatorial Guinea are chasing their second appearance.
In Madagascar Yanga FC striker Kiiza struck just when everyone seemed to have given up on Uganda’s chances of advancing from the first preliminary
Four minutes into added time, in the match’s last move, the South African referee pointed to the spot after a handball. Kiiza answered Uganda’s prayers by placing the ball home.
But Kiiza’s effort aside, the Cranes were a far cry from their usual form. The Henry Kalungi and Andy Mwesigwa pairing at central defence always left goalkeeper Ismail Watenga exposed.
But Watenga, making his maiden Cranes appearance, put up a gallant fight pulling off some big saves. The hosts’ missed penalty also had a lot to do with his intimidating figure in goal.
Cranes starting line-up: Ismail Watenga, Denis Guma, Joseph Ochaya, Henry Kalungi, Andy Mwesigwa, Hassan Wasswa, Hamis Kizza, Aucho Khalid, Geoffrey Kizito, Emma Okwi, Mutumba Kayongo.
Away goal crucial for return leg - Micho