The Uganda Cranes have picked up their first win at the African Cup of Nations finals in 41 years, defeating DR Congo 2-0 at the Cairo National Stadium in Cairo, Egypt.
Many did not give Cranes a chance going into the game given the enormity of the task at hand especially against a seasoned AFCON opposition like DR Congo. But the Cranes showed their intent and much desire to pull off a historic victory.
The Cranes despite playing in just their second consecutive AFCON finals, in 38 years did not show any signs of stage freight as they took the game to their opponents early on. But Congo managed to thwart any danger as they also threatened at the other end.
The Cranes found their breakthrough in the 14thminute, through KCCA striker Patrick Kaddu’s well cushioned header from a Farook Miya corner. This was Kaddu’s second goal for the Cranes after his effort at Namboole against Cape Verde that ensured Cranes qualification for AFCON.
Despite looking a bit off pace early on as he lost out on duels for the aerial balls, the goal seemed to give Kaddu an impetus and he could have grabbed a quick second moments later after defender Bevis Mugabi’s cross found him well placed at the far post. His header just off the target.
Kaddu again was in the thick of things as another effort was cleared off the line by a Congolese defender and moments later, midfielder Khalid Aucho’s long range shot was well saved by Congo goalie
Meanwhile, it was a perfectly well executed game plan by Cranes coach Sebastian Desabre. Full backs Mugabi and Geofrey Walusimbi were tasked with staying back even when in attack something that aided in keeping DR Congo wide players Elia Meshack and Yannick Bolasie at bay.
This limited DR Congo’s chances in behind with their only threat coming in the 40thminute but goalkeeper Dennis Onyango was equal to the task to save from Cedric Bakambu’s low effort.
The Cranes grabbed their second and match winner three minutes after the restart as Emanuel Okwi, this time connected well with an architectural free kick from Miya.
Desabre also set his team up to attack with quick transitions and this played to the Cranes strengths as pacey forwards Abdu Lumala and Okwi were often allowed space in behind and could have created something only to be let down by the final ball or choosing a wrong option.
Desabre and Onyango had promised to steer Cranes through the group stages and true could be their words, going by the performance exhibited today.
The Cranes go top of Group A, level on points with hosts Egypt thanks to a superior goal difference. Egypt had defeated Zimbabwe 1-0 on Friday.
Cranes next play Zimbabwe on Wednesday July 26 at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo.