South Africa/Uganda: Cranes Transition Starts On Sour Note Against South Africa

Uganda coach Abdallah Mubiru and his assistants will have spent the last 24 hours pondering how to fix the second-half collapse that saw them surrender a 1-0 lead to lose 3-2 to South Africa on Thursday.

Both countries used the friendly at Orlando Stadium in Soweto to tune-up for their respective Qatar 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifying matches.

The Cranes, who travel to Kenya for their opener in September, and Bafana Bafana, starting away to Zimbabwe, fielded generally youngsters.

Mubiru handed fairly experienced Ismael Watenga the first start since the retirement of legend Denis Onyango, with Paul Willa, Kizza Mustafa, Murushid Juuko and Halid Lwaliwa shielding him.

Taddeo Lwanga, Kagimu Shafik and Moses Waiswa occupied the middle of the park, with skipper Emmanuel Okwi, Allan Okello and scorer Ibrahim Orit completing a three-man attack.

And they did attack, despite the South Africans dominating possession.

One of those Cranes waves saw Okwi, who put in an impressive shift with the armband, beat opponents down the right before weighting in a quality ball that Orit stole behind two South African players to head home on 17 minutes.

But it is the hosts who returned from the break with more resolve.

For the equaliser, Okwi had fallen deeper to retrieve when Willa was out thought down the left, a ball sent in evading Juuko and Lwaliwa for Bongokuhle Hlongwane to beat a stranded Watenga.

The second saw Evidence Makgopa dance into the box, selling Kizza a dummy before beating Watenga to his right for a 2-1 lead.

Makgopa completed his brace with another technical goal, dancing into the box again and punishing Watenga late on.

Abdu Lumala, Bobosi Byaruhanga and Isma Mugulusi had come on for the tired legs of Okello, Lwanga and Orit, with Okwi having earlier been taken off for Steven Mukwala.

Lumala did poach home Uganda's second two minutes from time but the hosts held on for the bragging rights.


Both sides will have been pleased with some elements in their attack. Watenga did not have much to save in the beginning, but was suspect while dealing with some airborne balls.

He did, however, make some fine stops, and showed good command with instructions.

But the disappearance of the Cranes midfield as the game wore on, and a defence that lost shape at the speed of a falling pack of cards, will have concerned Mubiru.

"It was completely two different halves," admitted Mubiru. "We had a very good first half performance. But in the second half we switched off and they punished us. We have to address that."

Okwi, agrees the match showed that "we have a lot to do in the coming months" ahead of the World Cup qualifiers.

"There is also positives from today (Thursday), with new players coming through, and we can build on that."

International friendly


South Africa 3-2 Uganda

Cranes XI

Ismael Watenga

Paul Willa

Mustafa Kizza

Murushid Juuko

Halid Lwaliwa

Taddeo Lwanga

Shafik Kagimu

Moses Waiswa

Allan Okello

Emmanuel Okwi (C)

Ibrahim Orit


Mathias Kigonya

Charles Lukwago

Azizi Kayondo

Enock Walusimbi

Paul Mbowa

Muhamud Hassan

Bobosi Byaruhanga

Isma Mugulusi

Steven Sserwadda

Steven Mukwala

Derrick Kakooza

Abdul Lumala

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