Tokyo 2020 Olympics Qualifiers:
Return Leg: Uganda Crested Cranes 0-1 Ethiopia
*Ethiopia qualifies to next level 4-2 on aggregate
In rather heart breaking style, the Ethiopia women national football team overcame Uganda Crested Cranes home and away to progress to the second round of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics qualifiers.
The horn of Africa country overcame Uganda 1-0 at the Star Times Stadium, Lugogo before hundreds of passionate fans to progress 4-2 on aggregate having won the first leg 4-2 in Addis Ababa.
Veteran forward Loza Abera struck the priceless goal on 68 minutes.
The striker, who previously had a stint in Sweden calmly and confidently slotted the ball past goalkeeper Ruth Aturo following an initial blocked shot from Kidane Serkadis Guta inside the goal area.
Earlier before the opening goal, the game was balanced with an equal share of opportunities to break the deadlock.
Uganda’s best moment had arrived at the apex of the opening stanza when
Kazakhstan based professional, Fazila Ikwaput’s shot kissed the wood work.
Ikwaput who plays for BIIK Kazygurt reacted swiftly to shoot onto the cross bar following a poorly executed restart of play from the Ethiopian goalkeeper Abayinesh Beyoro.
Striker Hasifa Nassuna who started the game at the expense of US based Sandra Nabweteeme also registered a shot on and off target in the opening 45 minutes.
Upon restart of play, Uganda Crested Cranes’ technical team led by former player Faridah Bulega ushered in the diligent, fast paced and crafty winger Lillian Mutuuzo on the right wing.
The pint sized albeit talented flanker came on for Resty Nanziri at the very start of the second half.
Her astute ball control, directness, pace and composure gave Uganda some ray of hope, laying a cross and creating a free-kick following a foul by Asafaw Tadese.
The defining moment of the game arrived with 22 minutes left on the clock.
Loza broke the hearts of many Ugandans both on and off the field of play with a clinical finish after an initial goal bound shot by Serkadis Guta Kidane was blocked in the area.
Later, Riticia Nabbosa and Sandra Nabweteme were also brought on board to salvage the situation for Yudaya Nakayenze and Fauzia Najjemba respectively.
The changes however virtually had little impact as the experienced Ethiopians slowed down the tempo of the game with time killing antics to hold onto victory.
Ethiopia right back Mekonnen Nardos Getenet was cautioned for time wasting after she hesitated to quickly execute a throw-in and Uganda’s Ikwaput was also booked for rough unsporting play.
The free passing Ethiopians later rested Kidane Serkadis Guta for Yukuza Tarikuwa Debiso and the goal hero Loza limped out for Helen Eshetu.
At the final whistle of Rwandese FIFA Woman referee Aline Umutoni, it was tears and regrets for team Uganda on home turf.
But, the team building and planning process opens up on a fresh page as summarised by the famous ‘drawing board’ strategy.
The Ethiopians are now guaranteed of a slot to the next round where they face African giants Cameroon.
Team Line Ups:
Uganda Crested Cranes XI:
Ruth Aturo (G.K), Viola Namuddu, Grace Aluka, Aisha Namukisa, Shadia Nankya, Yudaya Nakayenze (59’ Riticia Nabbosa), Resty Nanziri (46’ Lillian Mutuuzo), Tracy Jones Akiror, Fazila Ikwaput, Hassifah Nassuna, Fauzia Najjemba (65’ Sandra Nabweteme)
Subs Not Used:
Daisy Nakaziro (G.K), Juliet Nalukenge, Phiona Nabbumba, Shamirah Nalugya, Marion Amangat
Abayinesh Beyoro (G.K), Ware Birtuylan Gebrekristo (Captain), Asafaw Bizuayehu Tadese, Kara Meskerem Kanko, Getenet Mekonnen, Denise Senaf Wakuma (52′ Helen Esheti), Kidane Serkadis Guta (87′ Yukuza Tarikuwa Debiso), Loza Abera (90′ Boyzo Senayat Bogale), Buwoli Hiwot Dengiso, Tesfamariam Meselu Abera
Subs Not Used:
Martha Beyene Bekele, Asefa Almnesh Geremew, Tadesse Aregash Kalsa
Center Referee: Aline Umutoni (Rwanda)