CHAN: Late Sserenkuma goal fails to save Uganda Cranes

By alex wafula
Jan 27, 2016
  • Uganda Cranes defender Isaac Muleme wheels away from Zimbabwe's Joe Ngodzo as team mate Richard Kasagga closes in. (Photo by Alex Wafula)

Despite Geoffrey Sserenkuma coming on as a second half substitute and scoring in the 93rd minute, Uganda Cranes, bowed out of the 2016 African Nations Championships following their one-all draw with Zambia on Wednesday.

Zambia finished top of the group after a barren draw with Mali at the Kigali Regional Stadium in Nyamirambo. The draw saw Mali finish second in the group with five points.

Before this match, Uganda needed to win by more than two goals and hoped Zambia beats Mali for them to go through. But missed opportunities meant Uganda bowed out without a single win.

“I am very proud of my boys but definitely disappointed we could not achieve our target of reaching the quarter final. We have picked many positives in this tournament and definitely lessons for the African Nations Cup qualifiers,” Milutin Sredojevic, the Uganda Cranes coach said after the match.

Uganda Cranes were unable to draw inspiration from their returning influential skipper Farouk Miya. Sredojevic made a few shifts to his starting team, pulling in third-choice keeper James Alitho in place of second-choice Mathias Kigonya because the first keeper Isma Watenga was injured on day one.

Joseph Muleme was deployed on the left side of the defense with Joseph Ochaya who in the previous games had played there pushed upfront. Having nothing to lose in the match, Zimbabwe played with more ease and comfort while the Cranes were always under pressure and kept hitting the balls up field.


Ochaya rifled a shot over the bar after being put through by Ivan Ntege at the edge of the box in the 18th minute. The winger had another chance but shot on sight two minutes later when he had options of his team mates lining up inside the box.

Miya had an opportunity from a free kick in the 30th minute, but he could not put enough power to the kick despite slicing it below the wall, Zimbabwe keeper Tatenda Mkuruva making an easy pick. Mkuruva pulled off a wonderful save in the 33rd minute, tipping over a ferocious header from Muleme, the winger having risen to pick up a cross from Erisa Ssekisambu.

Chance to break deadlock

Zimbabwe’s Rodreck Mutuma had a chance to break the deadlock right at the break, but the forward missed a sitter with a gaping goalmouth at the far post.

Zimbabwe got into the lead right after the restart, William Manondo taking full advantage of a defensive lapse between Richard Kasagga and Ochaya to race into the box and shoot past Alitho.

Uganda’s spirits immediately tumbled on the realisation that they now needed to score at least three. Sredojevic threw caution into the wind, pulling out central defender Kasagga and bringing in Cesar Okhuti.

The change meant Timothy Awany would pull back, Cranes now playing with three creative midfielders in search for goals. Okhuti should have made immediate impact but Zimbabwe keeper Mkuruva pulled off a decent save one on one to deny the Cranes attacker who had raced into a Keziron Kizito through pass.

Okhuti had another effort in the 71st minute with a shot which the keeper once again tipped off. Ocean Mushure should have finished the job for Zimbabwe with nine minutes left, but failed to beat Alitho one on one after being picked out by Moses Demera from a counter attack.

When all seemed lost for the Cranes, Sserunkuma rose at the far post to meet with an Okhuti cross right at the stroke of full time to make it one-all and salvage some pride for the Cranes.

The quarter final matches will commence on Friday after a two day rest with hosts Rwanda taking on DR Congo at the Amahoro while Cameroon take on Ivory Coast at the Huye Stadium.

Groups and Results

Group A: Rwanda, Gabon, Morocco, Ivory Coast

January 16: Rwanda 1 Ivory Coast 0, Gabon 0 Morocco 0; January 20: Rwanda 2 Gabon 1, Morocco 0 Ivory Coast 1; January 24; Morocco 4 Rwanda 1, Ivory Coast 4 Gabon 1.

Group B: DR Congo, Angola, Cameroon, Ethiopia

January 17: DR Congo 3 Ethiopia 0, Angola 0 Cameroon 1; January 21; DR Congo 4 Angola 2, Ethiopia 0 Cameroon 0; January 25; Ethiopia 1 Angola 2, Cameroon 3 DR Congo 1.

Group C: Tunisia, Nigeria, Niger, Guinea

January 18: Tunisia 2 Guinea 2, Nigeria 4 Niger 1; January 21; Nigeria 1 Tunisia 1, Guinea 2 Niger 2; January 26: Guinea 1 Nigeria 0, Niger 0 Tunisia 5.

Group D: Zimbabwe, Mali, Uganda, Zambia

January 19: Zimbabwe 0 Zambia 1, Mali 2 Uganda 2; January 23: Zimbabwe 0 Mali 1, Uganda 0 Zambia 1; January 27: Zambia 0 Mali 0, Uganda 1 Zimbabwe 1.

Remaining Fixtures

January 30: Quarter finals; Match 25. Rwanda v DR Congo (Amahoro), Match 26. Cameroon  v Ivory Coast (Huye);

January 31: Quarter finals; Tunisia v Mali (Amahoro); Zambia  v Guinea (Rubavu)

February 3: Semi finals; Winner 25 v Winner 28

February 4: Winner 27 v Winner 26

February 8: Play off, Final