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U20 WWCQ: Four lessons learnt from Uganda’s home defeat to Ghana



Uganda’s U20 national women’s team fell 2-1 to Ghana in the first leg of the 4th round of the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup Qualifiers played on Saturday at Kitende.

The defeat was the first ever inflicted to the team in this qualification campaign and put Ayub Khalifa’s coached side in an unfamiliar situation since they have to overturn the defeat so as to seal a place in the final qualification round.

There are four talking points we discovered from the team’s disappointing home defeat.

1. Failure to take away the early chances cost Uganda

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Uganda had a glorious opportunity to take an early lead but failed to take away the chances most notably, Fauzia Najjemba’s one on one chance that was parried away by the Ghanaian goalkeeper Konlan Cynthia Fiindib in the 9th minute.

Najjemba again forced the keeper into a brilliant save with a low drive while Aisha Nantongo also had a chance to go one on one with the keeper but decelerated to make a decision. Had Uganda taken the lead in the first 20 minutes, we would be talking about a different story today.

2. Asia Nakibuuka too error prone to play in the central defense

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Ghana took the lead through Salamatu Abdulai in the 20th minute when Asia Nakibuuka failed to head the ball perfectly. While it is worth noting that Nakibuuka has also been fielded as a center back lately even on the senior team, her primary playing position has been in the offensive department over the years. She was turned into a left back before surprisingly took up the center back position as Uganda featured in the COSAFA championship last year.

While many argue that she is too short for that position, we would disagree on that but we can’t take away the fact that she has been erroneous and sometimes got away with it. Luckily enough!

Not long ago, Nakibuuka blundered during Uganda’s 5-1 win over Eswatini and in football reckless mistakes from such sensitive positions always cost the team like it was in Kitende on Saturday. It is always going to be suicidal on such a stage.

3. Aisha Nantongo in midfield backfired

Nantongo is one of the versatile players you can think of since she can play across all departments. She featured in midfield against South Africa in the previous stage but on a day against Ghana, the combative Kawempe Muslim skipper was too slow to pass and initiate the team’s attacks.

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With Shamira Nalugya back in the squad, one would expect Nantongo to be dislodged from the midfield to make room for the partnership of Nalugya and Shakira Nyinagahirwa. No wonder, Nalugya was arguably the team’s best player when she came off the bench.

4. Juliet Nalukenge dearly missed

Nalukenge is the team’s chief source of goals and her absence was felt when the coach inevitably fielded Najjemba as the lead striker. Najjemba best thrives on the flank and it was evident on a number of occasions when she kept on drifting to the wings leaving a vacuum in the Nalukenge territory.

Wingers Margaret Kunihira and Catherine Nagadya were shadows of themselves and it’s no surprise they were the first players to be withdrawn.

Nalukenge, who joined the camp in the eleventh hour, is expected to feature in the return leg in Ghana therefore Najjemba will be expected to return to her best position.

Uganda will make a trip to Ghana early next month and will be tasked to at least win 2-0 so as to book a place in the final qualification round.

The aggregate winning team will face either Tanzania or Ethiopia to decide which nation goes to the World Cup to be in Costa Rica later this year.

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