The Uganda Cranes are held to a goalless draw by The Stallions at Namboole.
By Joseph Kizza
Moses Oloya blew the best opportunity to clinch a last-minute winner for The Cranes as Uganda were held by Burkina Faso in an Africa Nations Cup Group D qualifier at Namboole Stadium Tuesday evening.
The hosts, having lost 1-0 in the reverse fixture on Saturday, needed redemption to bolster their road to Gabon campaign.
But a series of wasted opportunities, despite enjoying superior ball possession over their west African counterparts, saw Coach Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic's side fail to muster a crucial victory at home.
Playing under floodlights, The Cranes wore black armbands in tribute to Ugandan goalkeeper Abel Dhaira, who died at the weekend in Iceland, where he was based as a player for ÍBV.
The Ugandans dedicated this return tie to their fallen Number One, and right from the word go, the home side appeared to make it count, bossing possession and forcing the Burkinabes into a fall-back position in the early stages of the opening half.
And Uganda, buoyed by a full home backing, nearly drew first blood early when Farouk Miya's cross from the left after muscling off his minder sliced agonisingly past the goal-mouth.
On the left flank, Joseph Ochaya was a useful, and busy, figure for the home side as his constant run-throughs caused The Stallions plenty of unease at the back. The Ugandan left-footer took all the corners that often drew brilliant saves from Burkina Faso keeper Daouda Diakité.
Jonathan Pitroipa, scorer of Burkina Faso's goal at home three days ago, was largely kept at bay by a disciplined Ugandan defence that offered South African-based goalkeeper Denis Onyango some sort of holiday for most of the game.
But the lanky Cranes Number One almost paid for some corky display when, several yards off his line, he tried to chest and clear and was only lucky that when Pitroipa stole the ball from him, his lobbed effort floated over the bar.
Earlier, the hosts almost fell into deeper trouble when Ochaya appeared to have clipped a Burkinabe opponent in the box, but the leftback was lucky that the referee waved off any penalty appeals from the visitors.
The Cranes also later in the game felt they should have been awarded a penalty when captain Geoffrey Massa tumbled in the area with an opponent hot on his heels as he tried to get to the end of a Tonny Mawejje clever cross.
Save for two episodes of heated clashes between players, Tuesday's was far from the physical encounter that played out at the Stade du 4-Août in the earlier fixture.
But for now, Uganda will feel they should have done better in front of goal and will rue missed opportunities by particularly Miya and late on by Oloya, especially with two games remaining, one at home against Comoros and the other away in Botswana.
Burkina Faso are still leading Group D albeit level on points (seven) with Uganda. Botswana are in third with six points while Comoros are rock-bottom with three points.
With two games each left, all teams are still in it, with a spot in next year's final in Gabon at stake.
Ivory Coast are the defending champions of the continental tournament, having beaten Ghana 9-8 in a penalty shoot-out in the 2015 final in Equatorial Guinea.