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Late charge not enough for Uganda in 1-1 home draw against neighbors Kenya

A hard fought match took place in an East African derby between neighbors Uganda and Kenya on Thursday, with neither team able to obtain three points in a 1-1 FIFA World Cup qualifying draw in Entebbe on Thursday. Michael Olunga’s second half header put the Harambee Stars in the lead before a late Fahad Bayo equalizer gave Uganda hope, but the Cranes could not push forward for an essential victory. Now a point behind Group E leaders Mali, Ugandan fans will have to watch and hope that last placed Rwanda can get at least a draw against the favorited Malians.

Hosts Uganda showed some attacking initiative, knowing that a victory was essential for their qualification hopes, but came up against a Kenya side that played hard despite being already eliminated from contention. Neither team has shown strength in the attack and it was a struggle to carve out opportunities in the opening twenty minutes. Kenya had the first clear chance when star striker Michael Olunga combined with Kenneth Muguna to send the giant goalscorer in on goal. However, Uganda keeper Charles Lukwago came up big to deny Olunga.

Uganda had a golden chance to open the scoring just before thirty minutes were up. Bobosi Byaruhanga boldly attempted to score from a free kick that was over forty yards out, sending a scorching shot that caused Kenya keeper Brian Bwire to spill the ball. Bwire could only slap the rebound away from onrushing Ugandan attackers into the path of Cranes defender Bevis Mugabi, but the center back could only touch his shot over the bar of the open goal. It was a massive opportunity for the hosts.

The match was even throughout and finishing was going to be the difference if either team wanted maximum points. Unfortunately for the hosts, it was Kenya who took advantage through the ruthless Olunga in the 61st minute. Muguna sent in a free kick service from the right wing and the ball bounced towards the far post, where Olunga leapt up to send a looping header over Lukwago and into the net for the opener.

The Cranes struggled to generate offense on demand with two goals now needed to get the essential three points. Late on, the Harambee Stars did their hosts a favor and conceded the equalizer in the 89th minute through poor play from keeper Bwire. Dribbling with the ball inside his area, Bwire bent down to pick the ball up as Bayo closed in, but Bayo went ahead and stuck his foot in to kick the ball away from the keeper and tapped into the empty net for a controversial goal.

However, in the end, Uganda could not find the three points following a last attack that resulted in a 3-on-3 in stoppage time. Allan Okello’s attempted through ball was deflected right into the path of fellow substitute Martin Kizza, but he got his shot all wrong and missed by a wide margin.

Highlights are in the link below.

Highlights from FIFA TV

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