Tuesday, January 26
*Uganda 2-5 Morocco
*Togo 2-3 Rwanda
Group C Standings
1.Morocco ?? 7
2.Rwanda ?? 5
3.Togo ?? 3
4.Uganda ?? 1
It is now becoming a habit, of sorts, that Uganda features at the CHAN tournament but fails to progress past the group stage.
Having initially failed to qualify for the inaugural edition in Ivory Coast-2009, the Cranes have featured in all five subsequent CHAN tournaments, without ever kicking a ball at the knockout stages.
Uganda Cranes have bundled out of the CHAN tourney following a 5-2 loss to Morocco.
Johnathan McKinstry’s side were given a gilmour of hope as they went ahead through Vipers SC winger Ibrahim Orit.
However, the Atlas Lions responded in style with Ayoub El Kaabi netting from the spot inside the two added-on minutes in the first half before Soufiane Rahmi scored a second for the defending champions, just after the break.
Hamza El Houssaoui put the game to bed, as a contest, as he netted a third on 71 minutes.
Rahmi and substitute Abdelilah Hafidi put the icing on the cake with the fourth and fifth goals of the game inside the last 10 minutes.
Saidi Kyeyune who scored a screamer against Togo scored Uganda’s second either side of Haussaoui and Rahmi’s second.
The result means Uganda finishes bottom of group C and bow out of the competition with just a single point from three games.
For Morocco, they seal a spot in the last 8 with 7 points and will be joined by Rwanda who powered past Togo 3-2 in the other group C game.
Cranes’ past CHAN struggles come back to haunt them
Uganda have seen their continental-football performances improve in the last few years.
From reaching back to back AFCON appearance, to featuring in five successive CHAN tournaments, the Cranes have indeed grown into a consistent feature at continental tournaments.
Coming into this year’s champions, a lot of optimism surrounded the team as they set a knockout-stage appearance as the target.
Having lost to Togo and drawn against Rwanda in their opening two games, the Cranes came into the game knowing that only victory will see them storm the last 8.
Orit looked to have sent them on their way as he collected from Anukani, just inside the area, and rifled Uganda into the lead on 25 minutes.
However, on a day that Morocco exerted their might and dominated proceedings, Uganda barely looked like a side capable of toppling the defending champions.
The lack of possession was coupled with a few sniffs on the Morocco goal and when they went forward, the chances created were lacking.
Saidi Kyeyune and Orit both shot tamely at Anas Znati in the Morocco goal.
Uganda felt they were denied a clear penalty early in the second half when Mohamed Ali handled an Orit shot but not even the claim looked to exhibit any indications of the Cranes mounting a comeback.
At the other end, Lwaliwa who replaced Patrick Mbowa at the back could not martial the rare guard as they consistently put them selves under pressure.
Right-back Denis Iguma was at fault for two of the goals as he was caught napping in the build up to the third while the KCCA FC defender casually gifted Morocco possession, in the build up to the fourth.
On the opposite flank, Kayondo slipped to allow Adam Ennafati time to play-in Rahmi for the man-of-the-match’s first strike of the evening.
When Kyeyune netted from a free kick after substitute Shaban Muhammad was fouled from just-outside the Morocco area, it was apparent that his goal was just a consolation on a day that Uganda would very-much want to forget.
Defending champions send out ‘be-worried’ signal
Morocco secured their first ever CHAN championship in 2018 when they thumped Nigeria 4-0 in the final played in Casablanca.
Their start to this year’s edition is one that had left doubts in the minds of many as per Morocco’s ability to defend the title, is concerned.
However, on Tuesday, the Atlas Lions sent out clear signals that they indeed intend to become the first nation to defend the title.
The five goals they scored on the day only did justice to the sustained pressure exerted on the Cranes goal in a match that they could have easily scored eight or nine.
Rahmi saw a flick sail just wide while Namsaoui forced Lukwago into a fine save off a free kick in the opening exchanges.
Just before they conceded Orit’s opener, Ayoub El Kaabi saw Lukwago pull off a brilliant save in a one on one situation before the striker’s bicycle kick sailed over from close range.
El Kaabi who could have scored a hat trick on the day wasted several chances, heading over Namsaoui’s freekick, side footing Rahmi’s cross wide and also forcing Lukwago into an angled save midway through the second half.
His goal was, however, as vital as they come, converting a penalty at the stroke of halftime after Mustafa Mujuzi handled in the area.
There was a feeling of inevitability as the Atlas Lions came out from the break searching for a second which came on 51 minutes with Rahmi side-footing Ennafati’s low cross.
Morocco looked like they still had goals in them and they struck three more times in the last 19 minutes.
El Houssaoui rifled in from just outside the area, Rahmi bundled in from close range and substitute Hafidi squeezed in-under Lukwago.
How both teams started
Charles Lukwago (GK), Aziz Kayondo, Denis Iguma, Mustafa Mujuzi, Halid Lwaliwa (c), Shafik Kagimu, Bright Anukani, Saidi Kyeyune, Viane Ssekajugo, Ibrahim Orit, Brian Aheebwa.
Anas Znati (GK), Yahya Jabrane, Mohamed Ali, Ayoub El Kaabi, Reda Jaadi, Hamza El Houssaoui, Soufiane Boufthi, Soufiane Rahmi, Omar Namsaoui, Adam Ennafati, Abdel Boutouil.