How the beleaguered Crested Cranes lost to Algeria in Women’s AFCON Qualifiers

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Sinan RAJUB SENOGA

Uganda’s Crested Cranes will have to score at least two unanswered goals against Algeria in the second leg if they are to qualify for the next round of the Women’s AFCON Qualifiers.

The Crested Cranes lost 2-1 to Algeria in the first leg at the FUFA Technical Center in Njeru and a huge task awaits them when the two sides meet in a fortnight’s time.

Following a fairly contested first half, the Algerians broke the deadlock through Imane Chabel before Inter Milan’s Habiba Karchouni doubled the lead. Fauzia Najjemba pulled one back through a penalty but it was too late to secure at least a draw.

Ayub Khalifa, the stand in coach of the national team, handed goalkeeper Vanessa Karungi her first ever appearance in the national team colors following Ruth Aturo’s injury.

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Phiona Nabbumba was fielded in right back in the absence of Samalie Nakacwa who is caught up by school engagements.

Ayub shuffled his cards at the start of the second half by introducing Rines WFC live wire forward Amina Nababi for central midfielder Reticia Nabbosa.

However moments later, Chabel put the Algerians in the lead with a thumping header after she got the better of her marker Najjemba in a corner kick situation in the 47th minute.

Three minutes later, Habiba Karchouni made it 2-0 for the Algerians with a stunning strike from outside the box after Hasifa Nassuna was dispossessed in midfield.

Moments later, Nassuna and Fazila Ikwaput were withdrawn and were replaced by Violah Nambi and Asia Nakibuuka.

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The introduction of Nakibuuka automatically relieved Nabbumba of right back duties as she switched to a more advanced role heading into the business end of the game.

Aisha Nantongo was forced off by injury and her place was taken by winger Marget Kunihira in the 70th minute.

Uganda pushed for a breakthrough and Sandra Nabweteme almost got it when her powerful shot hit the cross bar while Najjemba’s following header also hit the goal frame.

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Najjemba finally found target from the spot when Nababi was brought down at the edge of the box and a penalty was awarded in the 87th minute.

Nabbumba almost found the equalizer from Nambi’s cross but her goal bound header was blocked by the Algerian captain Sofia Guellatti in the final minutes of the encounter.

The Crested Cranes will travel to Algeria to take on their opponents in the second leg slated for Tuesday 26th September in Oran.

The aggregate winner of the encounter will face either Ethiopia or Burundi in the final round of qualification.

Uganda XI; Vanessa Karungi (GK), Phiona Nabbumba, Sumaya Komuntale, Aisha Nantongo (Marget Kunihira), Shadia Nankya, Reticia Nabbosa (Amina Nababi), Joan Nabirye, Hasifa Nassuna (Asia Nakibuuka), Sandra Nabweteme, Fazila Ikwaput (Violah Nambi), Fauzia Najjemba.

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