Uganda Cranes sail through to next round

Uganda Cranes sail through to next round

Uganda Cranes had Geoffrey Massa to thank after he scored the all-important goal as they edged Madagascar 1-0 to progress to the final preliminary round of the 2015 Orange Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

 The Uganda Cranes will now face the winner between Equatorial Guinea and Mauritania, who face off on Sunday. Mauritania led 1-0 from the first leg.

Uganda was the better side over the 90 but lived dangerously towards the end as the Barea pressed frantically for the equaliser.

Had the visitors scored, they would have progressed 3-2 on aggregate but Denis Onyango’s resoluteness in goal to keep out the late bombardment from the visitors means the Cranes progress 2-2 on the away-goals rule, having lost 2-1 in the first leg.

 Save for his poor, first-half clearance that could have cost Uganda, Onyango managed to neutralise the Malagasy’s late aerial bombardments as the visitors, who wanted just one goal to progress, pressed for an equaliser.

Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic made five changes from the team that started in the away defeat; Isaac Isinde replacing Henry Kalungi in central defence, winger Moses Oloya coming in for Hassan Wasswa, and Brian Majwega taking Joseph Ochaya’s place at leftback.

Kizito Luwagga, who put in an impressive shift, forced Martin Mutumba from the left midfield while Massa started ahead of first leg goal scorer Hamis Kiiza.

The Cranes struggled to get out of the blocks, attacking early but without the breakthrough as the Malagasy sat back waiting on a counter.

 But it was not long before Luwagga, who surprisingly started ahead of Tonny Mawejje, and Oloya combined for Massa’s goal.

 Oloya picked the ball just outside the 18-yard box and the Vietnam-based man caught the Magadascar leftback flatfooted, releasing Luwagga on the right.

 Luwagga then beat his man and his dipping cross was emphatically met by Massa’s ever clean-shaven head and past Madagascar goalkeeper Robin Rakotonirina to send the about 20,000 spectators into a 13th minute frenzy.

 But shortly after, Massa was guilty of missing a sitter after defender Dennis Guma’s craft on the right. He also had his effort cleared off the line late in the second half.

 Micho made three second-half substitutions, withdrawing the disappointing Emmanuel Okwi for Kiiza, impressive Oloya for Mawejje and inspiring Luwagga for Yunus Sentamu as he looked for that second goal.

 Madagascar also had Njiva Rakotoharimalala come on for Janahary Baggio and Dina Razanakoto for Ramanitrandrasana Tojo as they searched for the equaliser, but Uganda held on to keep the Morocco dream alive.

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