Vipers defender Halid Lwaliwa came off the bench to head in a late winner that spurred the Cranes to victory against the Bright Stars of South Sudan in the AFCON 2021 qualifier game played at the St. Mary’s Stadium Kitende on Thursday.
Lwalilwa who came off the bench to replace an injured Ronald Mukiibi headed home the game’s only goal in the 85th minute to extend the Cranes grip atop group B.
Uganda kick-started the game on a high footing with defender Robert Mukiibi curling the ball just from outside the box but his effort went just above the net.
In the 11th minute, the Cranes once again got a chance to take the game’s lead when Derrick Nsibambi was fouled at the edge of the penalty area, but Ochaya’s attempt from the resulting freekick could only end on the wall.
The visiting side’s first threat towards the Ugandan goal was in the 24th minute when Stephen Pawaar beat the Cranes Defense to find Wol Makueth but the talisman’s effort went agonizingly wide with goalie Onyango beaten.
In the 26th minute, the Cranes once again got another opening to take the lead, however, Ochaya’s delivery from the left failed to connect to his target, Derrick Nsibambi.
The first shot on target came in the 37th minute when Farouk Miya’s free-kick was brilliantly saved by Ramathan John.
Just before the halftime break, Luwagga also tried to get his onto the scoresheet, but his effort was too weak to go past Ramathan.
The game went into the halftime break with nothing separating the two sides.
The second half started just the same way as the first half with the cranes throwing everything onto the Bright Stars’ defense. With just 3 minutes into the 2nd half, Nsibambi’s shot was deflected past Ramathan but narrowly crept past the post for a corner kick.
A few minutes later, South Sudan had a shout for a penalty kick waved away by the Referee after Stephen Lony was tackled inside the forbidden area by Ochaya.
Farouk Miya had a chance to put the cranes ahead but his effort outside the 18-yard box could only connect with the post.
Five minutes before the death of the game, substitute Halid Lwaliwa rose to the occasion, heading home a well crafted Farouk Miya free-kick from the right to give the Cranes a much-deserved lead.
The result means Uganda has now extended their lead atop of group B with seven points garnered in 3 games and will now travel to Nairobi for the second leg against South Sudan at the Nyayo National Stadium in Kenya on November 16th.
Uganda Cranes XI: Denis Onyango (GK) (C), Elvis Bwomono, Joseph Ochaya, Ronald Mukiibi, Timothy Denis Awany, Mike Azira, Khalid Aucho, Faruku Miya, William Kizito Luwagga, Derrick Nsibambi, Emmanuel Arnold Okwi
South Sudan XI: Majak Mawith [GK], Peter Manyang [C], Abdelkarim Mutkwil, David Omot, Rahan Malong, Stephen Lony, Jackson Morgan, Manyumow Achol, Makueth Wol, Tito Okello, Ivan Wani