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East African rivals Kenya and Uganda fail to entertain in scoreless stalemate

Nothing could separate Uganda and Kenya on Thursday as the CECAFA members started off their FIFA World Cup qualifying second round with a 0-0 draw in Nairobi. The story of the match was a lack of creative spark in the final third and a failure from either team to test the goalkeepers. Both teams have one point in Group E following the result, placing them ahead of Rwanda but behind group favorites and pace setters Mali.

The first half proceeded with few clear cut opportunities, with Kenya failing to impose themselves at home and Uganda more than content to sit back and absorb the pressure. Kenya counted on forwards Michael Olunga and Masoud Juma as well as attacking midfielders Hassan Abdallah and Lawrence Juma to provide the attacking impetus, but none of them excelled for the Harambee Stars on Thursday. A couple of early weak shots gave Ugandan goalkeeper Charles Lukwago little trouble and Lawrence Juma was forced off in the 30th minute due to injury, leaving Kenya without much in the department of chance creation.

Uganda’s squad was mostly composed of players based in the country, which meant that due to the premature end of the Ugandan Premier League in May, match fitness was at a low level for the starting eleven. Manager Micho Sredojevic set his team out accordingly, looking to catch Kenya on the counter while having his team sit deep to prevent Kenya from exploiting any space. The tactics were successful but came at the cost of entertainment for the fans in attendance.

After the first half ended scoreless, the second half did not bring too much more impetus. Uganda doubled down on their successful strategy and looked to set pieces for opportunities, resulting in the Cranes not registering a single shot in the second period. Kenya produced even less going forward in the second half despite an urgency in the players to push the tempo of the match. Eric Omondi, the replacement for the injured Juma in the first half, sent a free kick opportunity high and wide in a moment that summarized the futility of both teams when it came to their attempts to score.

Highlights of the match are in the link below.

FIFA TV Highlights

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