Cranes turn focus on Stars duel


UGANDA Cranes captain Denis Onyango has described their coming 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers clash against Taifa Stars as a crucial and must win.

Onyango’s Cranes kicked off their AFCON qualifiers campaign on the right note with a crucial away 1-0 away win over Cape Verde in Praia on Sunday, while Taifa Stars were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Lesotho on Saturday.

The weekend results means Uganda Cranes are now top of the Group L table on three points, while Taifa Stars and Lesotho are tied second on a point each. Cape Verde without a point are tail-enders.

Taifa Stars will face Uganda Cranes in match Day Two on March 23 away in Kampala, Uganda next year and Onyango know the match will be difficult for them.

“We know we are unbeaten at home and if we get a result like this away in Tanzania and in Lesotho, it will give us another slot at the Nations Cup but of course we shall take one game at a time.

“They (Cape Verde) can come to Uganda and give us a hard time but it was very important that we start off on a good note and our next game is in Kampala against Tanzania,” he said.

The tie against the Taifa Stars will have everything pertaining to a derby – an East African derby and will indeed go a long way in deciding the fate of Group L and the bid to make it to the Cameroon showpiece.

Onyango, who took over the reigns from Geoffrey Massa who retired in March, is keen to make Afcon qualification a habit for the Uganda Cranes. And what better way to start that journey with an away victory over a strong Cape Verde side that are the favourites to progress from Group L.

“It was a very difficult game considering that we only arrived a few hours to the game. The guys fought very hard. Cape Verde are a very quality team but we managed not to concede. They played well in the first half but we had to hold their pressure until the last whistle,” Onyango explained.

“We knew that we would get a chance. Every team has a chance and you never know when it comes, even the weakest team. We got our chance and scored.” Geoffrey Sserunkuma scored a late goal to inspire the Uganda Cranes to an important victory against Cape Verde.

The 34-year-old striker, who had just replaced Emmanuel Okwi, got to the end of a Godfrey Walusimbi pass from the left flank to put the ball into the roof of the home side’s net to send the Estadio de Varzea into silence in the 83rd minute.

A reward for their disciplined display throughout the game came at the right moment so much that it caused panic in the Cape Verde camp as they sought an equalizer thereafter.

A solid back four with Nicolas Wadada at right back, Walusimbi on the left with Murshid Juuko and Bernard Muwanga in central defence shielded by Khalid Aucho and Hassan Wasswa stopped any form of Cape Verde assault.

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