Uganda Cranes and Tanzania’s Taifa Stars picked points away from home as they held on to draws in their respective opening matches of the FIFA World Cup, Qatar 2022 Qualification matches on Thursday evening.
Tanzania came from a goal down to draw 1-1 with DR Congo while in Nairobi, Uganda held on to a barren draw with neighbors Kenya in an East African derby.
At the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi, the opening half was devoid of many scoring opportunities, but the home side had the better half chances and in one or two occasions should have picked the lead.
Abdallah Hassan had a pair of chances off Masud Juma’s crosses from the left but he placed one shot wide and another header off target with the goal a yard infront of him.
The Ugandans were forced into a change just eight minutes into the game when Halid Lwaliwa had to be stretchered out injured and was replaced by Enock Walusimbi.
The visitors had their first effort at goal in the 21st minute when Under-20 star Byaruhanga Bobosi picked the ball at the edge of the box and went for a snap shot but his effort sailed straight to keeper Ian Otieno’s waiting arms.
The Ugandans were slowly growing into the game and Kenya’s dominance was stretched out. Seeing his side lose out on the balance, coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee made a change, Lawrence Juma coming off for Eric Johannah.
The Ugandans had a real chance in the 33rd minute when Joseph Okumu brought down Milton Karisa. The referee had initially signalled a penalty but after conferring with his assistant gave a freekick which Joseph Ochaya curled over and wide.
The left footed star had another opportunity a minute later with a shot from range, but keeper Otieno had it covered again.
Stars sought to end the half on a high and should have had a goal four minutes to the break. Hassan picked the ball on the right before slapping a brilliant low cross but no one was at hand to give it a nifty touch into the net.
Two minutes later, a good move started off by the impressive Richard Odada ended up in Johannah picking the ball at the edge of the box but his shot went inches wide.
In the second half, Stars continued pressing and Olunga was well placed twice, but couldn’t get a touch on the ball both times from Masud’s crosses off the left.
The forward had another effort with a header off Daniel Sakari’s long throw, but it didn’t gather enough strength to trouble keeper Charles Lukwago.
Coach Mulee then made a twin sub, Muguna and Hassan going off for Duke Abuya and Boniface Muchiri in a like for like change keen to strengthen the attack. He later withdrew Johannah who had come on as a sub and brought in Jackson Macharia.
However, the home side could not add color to the game as the scores remained the same.
Meanwhile in DR Congo, The Taifa Stars picked up a crucial point away from home as they held The Leopards to a 1-1 draw.
Saimon Msuva grabbed a point for the Tanzanians, scoring a 36th minute equalizer after Dieumerci Mbokani had given the home side the lead in the 23rd minute.
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