By Edrine Lubulwa.
Dangerous Substitute Derrick Kakooza’s ice cold 88th minute penalty handed Uganda a 2-1 victory over hosts Mauritania at the Stade de Olympique in Nouakchott on Saturday as the CECAFA region debutants progressed to the quarter finals of the Total Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations.
Both sides needed victory to assure passage to the last eight, but it was Uganda who would pick the ultimate prize coming from behind to win the tie and seal second spot.
The host nation will now have to wait till the final round of group matches to know if they progress as one of the two best third placed teams.
The Mauritanians went ahead in the first half via a Silly Sanghare penalty before Uganda equalized on the hour mark through Steven Sserwadda. Kakooza would then step off the bench to calmly slot a late spot kick for his second goal of the tournament.
Despite dominating for most spells of the opening half and creating numerous scoring chances, Uganda went to the break trailing.
The Hippos did everything right in the opening half but score and were duly punished for their poor execution of chances. Mauritania’s star man Oumar Mbareck who had been quiet for most of the match was brought down inside the area by Abdu Azizi Kayondo with eight minutes left.
The fleet footed winger picked the ball inside the box before switching to his lethal left foot and Kayondo duly tripped him as he prepared to pull the trigger.
Sanghare stepped up to the pressure plate and struck his spot kick into the roof of the net to give the home side a valuable lead .
Uganda felt hard done by the goal as they were the better side all through.
Ivan Asaba was the dangerman for the CECAFA champions with his movement on the left causing all sorts of problems to the Mauritanians and within the opening nine minutes of the match he had already been fouled four times.
He had two chances to score, first his shot from the left after some good play on the right saw 10 slap in a cross, but it was too weak with the keeper easily collecting.
He had another effort with a long range freekick in the 20th minute, but once again couldn’t get some good power behind the ball, the keeper making a meal of it.
The Ugandans continued to pile in the pressure, but poor decisions in the final third cost them goal scoring chances.
They however came off the break determined to right their wrongs and it took them just quarter of an hour in before they drew level. A good move on the right saw Steven Sserwadda break into the box and hit a low shot that ended in the bottom right corner.
But Mauritania gave an equally good account of themselves despite seeing their lead erased and came close 10 minutes later when Sanghare pinched the ball off Gavin Kizito on the right but his final shot was well saved by the keeper.
Uganda almost stole the lead with 10 minutes left when Samuel Ssenyonjo played Yiga through, but the latter’s shot was blocked.
The East Africans however kept the fight and won a penalty three minutes to time after the Mauritanian backline handled the ball inside the box as they tried to defend a corner. Substitute Kakooza stepped up to convert for what would be the winning goal.