Uganda Cranes captain Denis Onyango praised the “young” players as the team survived a South Sudan scare on Thursday.
The Cranes, playing at an artificial turf, struggled to get things going before inspiration from the bench proved the difference.
Halid Lwaliwa headed in the late winner in the 85th minute off a Farouk Miya free kick.
“The young players who came in changed the team,” said Onyango.
“They changed the game a lot, they were used to the artificial turf unlike some of those who started the game.
“Most of us rarely play on the carpet, we have been used to Namboole, so everyone is a master in his own area. Halid came in and scored for us, he was home but the delivery from Miya was also good. I thank the players for fighting as a unit and I think if we win the return leg in Kenya we will be able to qualify we just need to stay calm.
“We are used to playing at home with the 12th player, the fans, which in this case became a challenge to us because we had no fans to push us.”
Youngster Allan Okello and debutant Karim Watambala were some of the new introductions in the second half.
Emmanuel Okwi and Derrick Nsibambi were both taken off after unconvincing performances while William Kizito Luwagga failed to find the spark.
“We knew it will be a difficult game depending on results South Sudan had got in the recent past,” Onyango added.
“South Sudan’s last international games were two goalless draws away to Cameroon which shows a compounded team, they are playing as a team, they defended hard which became a problem for us.”
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