CHAN:Uganda Cranes hold Mali, Zambia beats Zimbabwe

By alex wafula
Jan 19, 2016
  • Mali's Sekou Koita vies for the ball with Uganda's Ceaser Okhutu.(Photo by Alex Wafula)

  • Zambia's Clatous Chama attempts to go past Zimbabwe skipper Hardlife Zvirekwi.(Photo by Alex Wafula)

Mali twice came from behind to force a two-all draw with Uganda Cranes in the first Group D match of the 2016 African Nations Championship (CHAN) played at the Umugunda Stadium in Rubavu on Tuesday.

It was a thrilling encounter, end to end with both sides taking each other by the throat. Mali had come into the match with a squad of young players, the oldest starter being 30-year-old midfielder Lussana Samake.

The youngest player, Sekou Keita who was a constant thorn for the Uganda backline was named man of the match. Cranes will be going into match day two worried with two of their key players having left the match injured.

Captain and second goal scorer Farouk Miya did not return after the break and was replaced by Muzamir Mutyaba while keeper Isma Watenga was stretchered off six minutes after the second half started, Mathews Kigonya taking his place.

Twelve minutes into the match, the CECAFA defending champions had opened the scores. Erisa Ssekisambu rose highest to connect to a Farouk Miya free kick from the left with the Mali defenders caught out with the speed at which Miya floated in the ball.

Mali got the equalizer in the 23rd minute through Keita.

The 17-year old dribbled past Uganda Cranes defenders before shooting low into Isma Watenga’s bottom left. Cranes came close to getting back into the lead from another set piece, Miya floating in a corner which Robert Ssentongo flicking over, but the effort went wide.

Milutin Sredojevic’s side however went back into the lead in the 40th minute from the penalty spot. Ssekisambu was brought down inside the box and the referee pointed straight to the spot despite the Mali players contesting the foul happened outside the box.

Miya however stepped forward and made no mistake, taking the scores 2-1 in favor of the Cranes.

The Cranes skipper thought he had another penalty a minute to the breather after appearing to have been brought down by Abdoul Karim Dante, but instead the ref yellow carded him for diving.

Cranes injury concerns 

Coach Sredojevic believes they should have had the penalty and exonerated Miya from diving accusations. Coming back from the breather and Miya absent meant reduced danger for Mali and they now had some confidence to move forward.

Cranes’ misery piled up with keeper Watenga picking a thigh strain after kicking a ball upfield, second choice Mathews Kigonya coming in.

Mali got the leveler in the 59th minute through Hamidou Sinayoko who tapped in from a yard out. Substitute Mamadou Coulibaly who had come on for Abdoulaye Diarra broke into the box from the right, cut in a cross with Bernard Muwanga’s attempt to chest it away falling on the scorer.

In the early kick off, Zambia beat Zimbabwe by a solitary goal in an all South African affair, a derby of sorts.

Experienced midfielder Isaac Chansa tapped home the goal in the second half. Zambia were stronger despite carrying with them a young squad and the presence of Chansa and 2012 African Nations Cup winning captain Christopher Katongo gave them confidence.