KCCA FC suffer a frustrating defeat away to AS Otoho in Congo Brazzaville in the first leg of the 2018-19 CAF Confederation Cup playoff round.
2018-19 CAF CONFEDERATION CUP PLAYOFF ROUND
Sunday's result in Owando:
By Joseph Kizza
CONGO BRAZZAVILLE - Ugandan side KCCA FC had a trip they will wish to quickly put behind them after being dismantled by Congo Brazzaville side AS Otoho on Sunday.
The visitors fell behind 20 minutes into the game through a penalty, before matters worsened two minutes later when they conceded a second goal through Yedan Moussa.
After a lacklustre opening half, Mike Mutebi made swift changes at the start of the second half in a bid to get back into the contest.
But a 75th-minute strike by Kikasa Wamba sealed victory for the home side to give the Congo Premier League defending champions a huge advantage in this duel.
The two sides will be back in action for the return leg in a week's time in Kampala.
For a side that goal scoring has not been a problem this season, Sunday's one-sided result in Owando may seem unbelievably strange - and understandably so. Prior to their trip to Congo Brazzaville, KCCA had scored at least a goal in 15 of their 17 games in all competitions this season.
Even in their only defeat in the league this campaign, against Express FC, Mutebi's men managed to find the net twice (3-2).
And to get to the playoff round of the CAF Confederation Cup, the 12-time Ugandan league champions hit five past a hapless Mtibwa Sugar FC across two legs, conceding once.
But it was a different story altogether against Congo league holders Otoho, who tamed the firepower of the red-hot visitors in a first leg tie played at the Stade Omnisport Marien Ngouabi.
Starting with a 3-4-3 formation, the Kasasiro Boys were hit by an early scare when skipper Timothy Awany had to be stretchered off the pitch nine minutes into the game for treatment after falling awkwardly.
But the magic of the sprays would soon bring him back on his feet.
After seesawing action in the early stages of the game, the hosts took the lead, thanks to a penalty, to send the home faithful into raptures. Life became even sweeter for Otoho - and more miserable for KCCA - when Moussa pounced to make it a swift second midway into the first half.
Trailing by two goals is not a position KCCA have been familiar with, and this piled so much pressure on them that some of their players turned reckless. Mike Mutyaba was the first player to be booked, followed by teammate Fillbert Obenchan.
And by the time referee Adissa Ligali of Benin brought the action to a break, Otoho, who were eliminated from the Champions League by FC Platinum of Zimbabwe, had the upperhand.
The visitors made swift changes after the restart, with the cautioned Mutyaba giving way for Allan Kyambadde and Muzamir Mutyaba coming on for Lawrence Bukenya.
Meanwhile, Allan Okello, a subdued figure in the first half, saw his effort saved by home goalkeeper Chansel Massa Mohikola 10 minutes after the interval. On the hour mark, the fresh legs of Kyambadde drew the number one man into yet another fine save to frustrate the visitors even more.
The game came to an abrupt end for goalscorer Moussa, who was forced off after picking up an injury and be replaced with Alou Bagayoko.
As the visiting side chased long and wide for their first goal, Otoho punished them again, 15 minutes before time, through Wamba to all but end the match as a contest.
After a breathless December of both domestic and continental commitments in which KCCA won all but one of their seven matches in a super busy month, the Kasasiro boys will have been disappointed to register their second defeat of the season.
Their third game of 2019 will leave Mutebi and his team plenty of thinking to do as they prepare for the return leg due next week with a place in the group stage at stake.
It has not been a bright start for Uganda's two representatives in the competition.
Defending league champions Vipers SC were held to a goalles draw by AS Sfaxien of Tunisia on Saturday. The result meant that the Venoms face an uphill task ahead when the two sides meet again in Tunisia for the return leg.
The lingering question now is: Will a Ugandan club make it to the group stage?
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