Captain Miya Farouk scores twice as Uganda demolishes Zanzibar at Awassa Stadium in Ethiopia.
Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup 2015
Zanzibar 0 Uganda 4 (Miya 9’ 17' (pen), Ssekisambu 47' Okhuti 78’)
By Joseph Kizza
Captain Miya Farouk scored twice as Uganda demolished Zanzibar in a Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup tie at the Awassa Stadium in Ethiopia on a hot Tuesday afternoon.
Erisa Ssekisambu added a third two minutes after restart before Caesar Okhuti wrapped up a huge victory over nine-man Zanzibar Heroes, who saw their keeper sent off over a challenge and another player redcarded in the second half.
An early afternoon fixture two days after a wounding 2-0 defeat to Kenya is not what The Cranes camp would have fancied, but then, such are the demands of a regional tournament as competitive as Cecafa.
But once on the pitch, under blistering temperatures, Coach Milutin Sredojevic (Micho)’s side offered a snapshot of evidence of just how swiftly they can recover from defeat by putting up a dominant performance over a side that made their work even easier by unluckily going a man down early, and conceding a penalty in the process – and then further losing another player late on.
On show was clear dominance of the record title holders over the Zanzibaris – who have never won the regional title.
The two sides started off this edition with defeat, and if there was one side that exhibited more hunger for quick recovery, it was The Cranes. Micho made three changes to the side that played the Harambee Stars on Sunday, and the reforms translated into better efficiency, solidity and fluidity.
Ivan Ntege, starting this time, injected more control in the midfielder alongside Muzamiru Mutyaba in a game that saw Uganda play with more breadth as Ssekisambu's and Okhuti's pace on either flank proved a tad too much for their respective marksmen.
The two players were as swift in attack as they were in providing for the central attackers. In fact, there were clear signs that the islanders were in for a long afternoon when skipper Miya, who has been in phenomenal goal-scoring form recently, appeared to have been brought down in the box in the fourth minute, but the referee waved off penalty appeals by the Ugandans.
The Zanzibaris survived that early scare, but what they didn’t was Miya’s opener only five minutes later. Ssekisambu sliced open the defense with a powerful run into the box, fed in a dashing Miya who fired home his fourth goal in four international games.
The budding striker scored in the two ties against Togo in the World Cup qualifiers earlier this month.
He was unlucky though against Kenya in their opening game two days ago, but the Vipers FC forward soon proved he had more than rediscovered his scoring boots when he made it two against Zanzibar from the spot in the 17th minute.
The Zanzibar Heroes will not want to watch again the buildup to that penalty, for its effect made their work even more arduous. Goalkeeper Ali Mwadini, seeing an advancing Ssekisambu, stormed forward to stop him and ended up clattering the striker in the box – an action that earned him a straight red.
Striker Ame Ali Zungu of Azam FC was the sacrificial lamb, replaced by substitute keeper Mohamed Abrahman.
For the new keeper, an early test lurked as brace-scorer Miya almost bagged a hattrick two minutes later after a sloppy defender’s back-pass.
From then on, it was pretty much one-way traffic as The Cranes appeared determined to take advantage of their opponents’ player deficiency. At one point, a blend of dexterity and teamwork in Zanzibar's half saw the Ugandans’ impressive passing end with Okhuti blasting wide – when, if he had settled the ball, he should have fired home.
But Micho’s boys, chasing a record 14th Cecafa title, had more in stock. They made dangerous dashes in front via the wings and once, a cute Okhuti pass fell in the path of an adventurous Ntege who bit off more than he could chew – sending his ambitious effort whistling over the bar.
As half-time approached, the largely home (Ethiopian) crowd urged on the trailing Zanzibar Heroes, who responded by making a couple of runs forward, although nothing came out of such labour.
In fact, the islanders could have gone another goal down in the 36th minute when Ssekisambu’s powerful through-run and resultant effort was blocked by the keeper.
Now if you needed a clearer sense of what the opening half was like, this can help: Total attacks: Uganda 9 Zanzibar 3. Shots on target: Uganda 6 Zanzibar 1.
Two minutes into the second half, Vipers FC forward Ssekisambu turned from provider to scorer as he collected a through-pass and fired in the roof of the net.
15 minutes to the final whistle, Zanzibar suffered yet another setback as midfielder Yahya Mudathir, who plays for Azam FC, was redcarded for bundling Ssekisambu with a nasty open-boot tackle. The clash saw the Ugandan player stretchered off for medical attention, before coming back on minutes later.
Earlier, in a bid to find a consolation goal, Anthony Matheo's well-worked ball went to waste as the Young Africans player's target was caught offside. Meanwhile, Micho brought on Frank Kalanda in place of captain Miya in the 68th minute to afford the Ugandan skipper enough time to rest after a series of international games.
In their pursuit of a first goal of this tournament, the Zanzibaris’ woes came haunting again when they conceded a fourth goal through Okhuti. Check this out: so powerful was the Ugandan attacker’s 78th-minute goal that the ball ripped through the net.
He even came close to scoring a brace but his headed goal six minutes to time was disallowed. Another player who came close late on was Nelson Senkatuka, who was making his The Cranes debut.
Four goals, two red cards and a dominant The Cranes side wrapped up yet another Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup tie in Ethiopia as Uganda climbed top of Group B, pending Wednesday’s other group game between Kenya and Burundi.
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