Uganda/Ethiopia: Ugandan Sides Draw Kenya, Ethiopia in Continental Qualifiers

Uganda and Ethiopia are slowly creating a women's football rivalry that might never go away.

The sides were on Monday, during draws in Cairo, locked in for first round showoffs in the path to qualify for both the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (AWCON) and 2022 U-17 World Cup (WC).

The senior team Crested Cranes have played Ethiopia numerous times but the most recent one was in 2018 in the first round of the 2020 Olympic qualifiers.

Ethiopia edged the tie with an aggregate score of 4-2 in a fixture that will mostly be remembered by Coach Faridah Bulega's failure to field both Hasifah Nassuna and Sandra Nabweteme - Uganda's most potent club football striking partnership - concurrently for more than 15 of the 180 minutes.

In Uganda's last attempt to qualify for AWCON, Kenya stopped Bulega's side in 2017 with an aggregate score of 1-0 thanks to their first leg win in Machakos. The 2020 qualifiers, in which Uganda had to play Burundi first, were cancelled due to Covid-19.

The path in this qualification that has attracted 44 teams could yet again lead Crested Cranes to Kenya - who play South Sudan in the first round - in the second round, from which the 11 winners join Morocco at the finals.

Better fortunes

The U-17s, however, enjoy a better record against Ethiopia.

Coach Ayub Khalifan's side beat Ethiopia 5-1 on aggregate in the 2020 WC qualifiers during the preliminary rounds played in early 2020.

The U-17s went on to beat Tanzania 6-2 overall in the first round and were due to play Cameroon for one of Africa's three places in the November 2020 finals in India when Covid-19 hit to wipe out the sixth edition of the WC altogether.

All that will count for nought as the sides lock horns again for the 2022 Indian dream in the March 2022 second round after getting a bye in the first that has attracted 10 teams.

Uganda will, however, not have stars like top scoring captain Juliet Nalukenge, midfield light Shamira Nalujja and defensive lynchpin Stella Musibika among others, who will now form the core of the U-20 side coached by Oliver Mbekeka.

The winner of this second round tie that will be played in March 2022 then plays in the third round against the winner of the tie between Equatorial Guinea and Kenya for a place in the final (fourth) qualification round.

U-20 get Kenya

Meanwhile, Mbekeka's side also got a first round bye, and were drawn against Kenya in the second that has 32 sides, ahead of the 2022 WC U-20 finals in Costa Rica.

The sides will meet first in Kenya in September before finishing it off in October.

In the last qualifiers, Uganda lost 2-1 in both first round legs to Tanzania.

Three more rounds will be played after October to determine who gets the two slots available to Africa.

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