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Uganda, Zimbabwe share spoils in Afcon thriller

Wednesday June 26 2019

Zimbabwe's defender Tendayi Darikwa (left) fights for the ball with Uganda's forward Patrick Kaddu during their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations match at the Cairo International Stadium on June 26 , 2019. PHOTO | KHALED DESOUKI |

Zimbabwe's defender Tendayi Darikwa (left) fights for the ball with Uganda's forward Patrick Kaddu during their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations match at the Cairo International Stadium on June 26 , 2019. PHOTO | KHALED DESOUKI |  AFP

ANDREW MWANGUHYA
By ANDREW MWANGUHYA
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IN CAIRO

Uganda Cranes inched closer to securing a place in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations' last 16 with a hard fought 1-1 draw against Zimbabwe at the Cairo International Stadium on Wednesday.

Emmanuel Okwi scored Uganda's third goal of the tournament but it was not enough to hand the Cranes all three points as Zimbabwe's Khama Billiat intervened.

The result moves Uganda to four points, which should - in worst case scenario - have them in the last 16 in the expanded 24-team tourney.

"It was a difficult game for us and after we scored we accepted pressure on us and conceded. But in the second half we did get better organisation. I'm proud of my players," said Uganda coach Sebastien Desabre.

His Zim counterpart Sunday Chidzambwa said: "We had planned the game very well and everyone can agree we played better than we did against Egypt. We created many chances but didn't put them away. I have to congratulate my boys."

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Uganda started like a house on fire, Farouk Miya breaking down the Zimbabweans in the middle to find Khalid Aucho.

Aucho's quick glide found an inflight Abdu Lumala, the Sweden based winger driving in and his low effort punched by Zimbabwe goalkeeper George Chigova into Okwi's path. The Simba striker tapped it home from close range for Uganda's opener and his second of the tournament on 11 minutes.

Cairo International Stadium erupted, with majority of the Egyptian fans - who filled the 75,000 capacity facility ahead of their game against DRC - joining a section of Ugandans in celebration.

But that was just about it for Uganda's ambitions.

ZIMBABWE FIND THEIR FOOTING

Their structure was broken down in the middle and defence, with Patrick Kaddu - who missed an open goal late on - isolated upfront.

Having lost their first match to Egypt, they needed to get back to keep their Africa Cup of Nations chances alive.

"I got the man of the match award but unfortunately we didn't get the result we wanted. During the game I thought we could get the second goal. We have to take responsibility as strikers," said Billiat.

Billiat thoroughly tested Bevis Mugabi at right back and Ronald Mukiibi, in for a reportedly ill Murushid Jjuuko in central defence.

Twice the Zimbabwean star found Knowledge Musona but the Zimbabwe captain failed to beat goalkeeper Denis Onyango in Uganda's goal.

Billiat dragged his effort wide inside the box after being teed up by Obvious Karuru before moments later forcing Onyango to his first serious save on 35 minutes.

By now Billiat had changed wings to test Godfrey Walusimbi, who needed Hassan Wasswa's constant help, the other end.

And when Karuru beat his markers down the left, Billiat was on hand to beat Onyango for the first time in the tournament on 40 minutes for 1-1.

The song hardly changed after half time, Billiat cleverly releasing Karuru on the right. Karuru's ball in caused pandemonium in Cranes box but Musona, Zimbabwe's guiltiest on the evening, hit the upright.

Billiat again midway the half teed up substitute Karuru but Onyango's double save, including one off the line, literally confirmed Uganda's point.

Goalkeeping coach Fred Kajoba sprinting at full time to hug Onyango completed the story.

Uganda Cranes XI:

Denis Onyango, Bevis Mugabi, Godfrey Walusimbi, Ronald Mukiibi, Hassan Wasswa, Michael Azira (Tadeo Lwanga), Emmanuel Okwi (Allan Kyambadde), Khalid Aucho, Faruku Miya (Timothy Awany), Patrick Henry Kaddu, Abdu Lumala

Substitutes:

Robert Odongkara (G.K), Salim Magoola (G.K), Joseph Ochaya, Derrick Nsibambi, Allan Kateregga, Isaac Muleme, William Luwaga Kizito, Nico Wakiro Wadada, Isaac Muleme, Murushid Juuko

Zimbabwe XI:

George Chigova (GK), Tendayi Darikwa, Divine Lunga, Alec Mudimu, Teenage Hadebe, Danny Phiri, Thabani Kamusoko, Obvious Ovidy Karuru, Talent Chawapiwa, Khama Billiat, Knowledge Musona (C)

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