Uganda Hippos qualified for the semifinals of the U20 Africa Cup of Nations on Thursday night after edging Burkina Faso in the shootout.
Derrick Kakooza, Joseph Bukenya, Najib Yiga, Ivan Bogere, and Kenneth Ssemakula converted their kicks from the penalty spot while Jack Komakech kept out Yacouba Djiga’s kick for Hippos to celebrate a 5-3 triumph.
Playing at the continental championship for the first time, Hippos are making history with every level they ascend to and head coach Morley Byekwaso is proud of the feat.
“This (reaching semifinals) is history,” said Byekwaso. “This re-echos the words of our FA president whose dream is to see Uganda become one of the best footballing nations in Africa,” he addeed.
“With this (performance), we are at the start of a new journey in Ugandan football and we are proud of what we have achieved at this tournament.
“We came to this tournament as underdogs and no one expected us to get this far because it is our first time playing at the U20 AFCON.
“Of course, we knew how tough a challenge it was going to be but we wanted to test ourselves against the powerhouses of African football like Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso and the rest and we are happy that we have gone this far.”
Speaking about the game, Byekwaso praised his charges for the way they handled the game, matching Burkina Faso’s physicality and holding the nerve to put away the penalties.
“I am happy with the way the boys handled the game through the 120 minutes because we came up against a tough team, very physical and quite competitive side,” Byekwaso said.
“But I felt we matched them pound for pound and the boys recognised how tough a challenge it was and conducted themselves well not giving them the advantage and holding it out for the entire game.”
“When we got to the penalties they did well to hold their nerve and with luck on our side we prevailed from the game.”