BRILLIANT! Fantastic! Incredible! The three might be powerful superlatives often used to describe the finest in ordinary life, but none best describes this â€˜immortalâ€™ Cranes side that catapulted Uganda to CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup glory yesterday. F
CECAFA FINAL RESULT
Uganda 1 Kenya 0
Tanzania 3 Burundi 2
BRILLIANT! Fantastic! Incredible! The three might be powerful superlatives often used to describe the finest in ordinary life, but none best describes this â€˜immortalâ€™ Cranes side that catapulted Uganda to CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup glory yesterday. For two weeks, the signs were clear that it was coming.
And who better than Brian Umony to deliver this success-starved nation to the â€˜promised landâ€™ after a trademark goal that handed Uganda its tenth title and justly guaranteed him the Golden boot. A championship five years in the waiting is worth a special celebration.
The Cranes made sure they didnâ€™t disappoint any of their fans last night, both during the 1-0 victory over Kenya to win the CECAFA Championship, and after it.
Umony scored in the 16th minute and the Cranes never backed down against such a formidable opponent. Their last significant title came in 2003 in Sudan.
â€œIt is to me the most important day in Ugandan football in many, many years,â€ Umony said.
Against the highly accomplished Kenyans, the Cranesâ€™ werenâ€™t intimidated. They got the one goal they needed â€” from a slumping striker, no less â€” and set off chants of â€œOle, Ole Ole!â€ at the final whistle.
Again Cranesâ€™ Coach Bobby Williamsonâ€™s preparations proved intelligent and sensationally effective. Williamson knew that Kenyaâ€™s height advantage meant his team needed some additional ploy to open space and utilize possession within restricted areas.
And so Cranesâ€™ players made their move, growing in confidence with every passing minute of the final despite a shaky ten-minute start that had allowed the Harambee Starsâ€™ the majority share in possession and a chance to silence the home crowd through Joseph Shikokoti, with a brushed effort that rattled the post.
The Cranes yet again fell back to their old strengths that had gotten them this far â€“their togetherness and desire to accept the ball transforming Kenyan play maker Osborne Monday into a pedestrian.
From one of the several set-piece situations that had worked delight for them in the competition, the Cranes managed their breakthrough â€“for the goal that proved worth the weight of gold.
As Vincent Kayizzi and Steven Bengo opted to interchange passes from a resultant corner rather than swing it in, a cluster of Cranesâ€™ players darted within the 18-yard, in dummy runs that filled the Kenyan back-four with indecision.
Kenyaâ€™s centre-halves were caught in two minds, whether to stick with Massa or attend to Andrew Mwesigwa. Edgar Ochieng and George Owino both went with Massa, allowing Umony the split second to muscle in and shoot past goalkeeper Duncan Ochieng.
The goal necessitated a knee-jerk reaction from the Kenyans, whose plot was getting the Cranes on the break through the fast-feet of Mike Baraza and Francis Ouma.
But there was so much to admire from the commanding presence of Tonny Mawejje, who excelled in his holding role and the rock-solid performances of Andy Mwesigwa and Edward Ssali and the work ethic of Geoffrey Massa, who soldiered on despite pulling a thigh muscle.
Cranes scented blood and almost pulled off their second goal on the night, but for Robert Kimuliâ€™s effort to end on the upright. Although Kenya threatened occasionally, their chances on goal were far minimal.
In beating a team that had denied them the title in 1982, the Cranes put to rest a reputation for underachieving. Always loaded with talented players, Cranesâ€™ had spent five years falling short of expectations.That all changed at the 35th edition.
Umony helps Uganda to 10th CECAFA