Debutant Moses Waiswa stepped off the bench to score in the 85th minute as Uganda Cranes forced a 1-1 draw with Harambee Stars in a friendly match on Thursday at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos.
Michael Olunga had scored for the hosts in the first half.
The home side should have only themselves to blame after missing a myriad of opening opportunities which left coach Stanley Okumbi infuriated.
“We should have scored at least three goals with the number of chances we had today. That is still a problem we have to solve. We might have gone nine matches without losing but the number of draws is not encouraging,” Okumbi told Sports News Arena after the match.
Uganda’s Milutin Sredojevic who fielded a largely home based squad was satisfied with the result.
“We came here with the aim of giving a chance to every player to prove themselves and we have succeeded in that. We have a wide pool of players to select from and we know what we need to do to improve,” the Serbian coach noted.
Harambee Stars’ Okumbi had put in a blend of experienced and young players. Most of the first team players were not even in the starting 18.
The coach handed debuts to Ulinzi Stars forward Samuel Onyango, goalkeeper Patrick Matasi and AFC Leopards stopper Robinson Kamura.
The tactician said he was impressed with the performance of the trio, especially Ulinzi’s Onyango who played for 76 minutes. Matasi also claimed the assist to Olunga’s goal.
“It has been my dream since 2011 when I started playing Premier league football to turn out for the national team and this is a special day for me. Now the task is on me to work harder to make this consistent,” an excited Onyango said after the game.
Onyango provided the first chance
Onyango was at the heart of attack in the opening minutes and he provided the first chance in the second minute.
He broke through the middle, laid off the ball for Olunga but the latter’s shot was collected by the Uganda keeper Benjamin Ochan.
Olunga who is yet to play a competitive match for his new side Ghuizhou Zhicheng showed signs of lack of match fitness missing a second close chance in the ninth minute.
Anthony Akumu started a freekick quick releasing him into the box, but the striker skied over with only Ochan to beat.
A minute later, Noah Wafula sent him through one on one with Ochan but again his attempt at placing the ball at the far post was thwarted by the custodian’s feet. Uganda had their first opportunity of the match in the 16th minute.
Geoffrey Sserenkuma found space at the back of the Harambee Stars defense from a Muzamir Mutyaba looped ball, but his strong shot was fisted away by Matasi.
On the half hour mark, Mutyaba tried his luck with a surprise shot from distance hoping to catch Matasi off guard, but the effort went over the bar.
Olunga finally made amends for his earlier misses with a cool finish in the 35th minute. The striker picked up the ball from a Matasi counter, beat Habib Kavuma before shooting low past Ochan.
He should have finished the half on a high with a brace to his name, but he failed to capitalize on a defensive blunder shooting the ball high.
Batambuze pulled out
At the start of the second half, Uganda’s Micho pulled out Tusker FC left back Shafik Batambuze who made his debut for The Cranes and brought in Yasser Mugerwa.
Okumbi was called into a change as well, but a forced one after Musa Mohammed picked a thigh injury. He brought on Simon Mbugua in his place.
Harambee Stars had another clear chance in the 58th minute but Noah Wafula fluffed it. Michael Olunga had been put through by Onyango with the striker cutting back to the edge of the six yard box.
Wafula’s effort on goal wasn’t well executed and it went wide.
That proved to be the Tusker man’s last piece of action as he was withdrawn for John Mark Makwatta.
Late call up Paul Were was also introduced for goalscorer Olunga. Harambee Stars continued with the pressure and debutant Robinson Kamura had a well taken free kick come off the bar.
Olunga’s withdrawal brought some comfort for the Cranes as they began to move forward knowing the danger of the talismanic forward’s speed had been withdrawn.
The pressure paid off in the 85th minute when Waiswa took advantage of an error from Aboud Omar to chip the ball in from a tight angle.
Okumbi will now have his chalkboard full as he prepares for Sunday’s tighter match against a full strength DR Congo squad at the same venue.
Teams: Kenya v Uganda
Kenya: Patrick Matasi, Brian Mandela (C), Musa Mohammed, Robinson Kamura, Aboud Omar, Anthony Akumu, Johanna Omollo, Samuel Onyango, Noah Wafula, Jesse Were, Michael Olunga.
Subs: David Okello, Simon Mbugua, Osbourne Monday, Kenneth Muguna, Bernard Mang’oli, John Makwatta and Paul Were.
Uganda: Benjamin Ochan, Nicholas Wadada, Godfrey Walusimbi, Murshid Juuko, Habib Kavuma, Timothy Awany, Hassan Waswa (C), Emmanuel Okwi, Muzamiru Mutyaba, Geoffrey Sserunkuma, Shafik Batambuze.
Subs: Isma Watenga, Brian Majwega, Milton Karisa, Yassar Mugerwa, Kirizeston Ntambi, Moses Waiswa, Martin Kiiza.