Saturday, February 20
*Mauritania 1-2 Uganda
*Mozambique 1-4 Cameroon
Group A standings
Uganda Hippos staged a comeback to beat hosts Mauritania and qualify to the quarterfinal of the 2021 AFCON U20 Championship.
Second half goals from Steven Sserwadda and Derrick Kakooza handed Uganda a needed victory to finish second of group A behind leaders Cameroon.
Silly Sanghare handed the hosts an undeserved lead from the spot when Aziz Kayondo brought down Oumar Mbareck in the 40th minute.
Uganda had looked the better side before going down and continued to push for an equaliser in the second stanza.
Sserwadda finished a nice build up when he fired under the keeper after receiving from Sam Ssenyonjo at the hour mark for the equaliser.
With the game heading for a stalemate, Uganda were awarded a penalty after Mohamed Sarr handled Kayondo corner for Kakooza to send the keeper the wrong way.
The Hippos gathered into the centre circle after the final whistle for prayers as they marked their debut appearance at the tourney with a place in the knockout.
Uganda finish with six points.
Hippos Resilience Pays Off
Uganda and Mauritania came into the game tied on three points after recording similar results against Cameroon (0-1) and Mozambique (2-0).
A win for any side was the only guarantee for a ticket to the knockout stage.
Coach Morley Byekwaso made three changes to the team that lost 1-0 to Cameroon – Najib Yiga, Derrick Kakooza and Ivan Bogere paving way for Samuel Ssenyonjo, Steven Sserwadda and Ivan Asaba in the starting XI.
Asaba proved handful for the hosts and caused all sorts of problems, however, Uganda couldn’t find a breakthrough.
Asaba collected from Basangwa but his weak shot was easily collected by the goalkeeper Mohamed El Mokhtar at close range.
The Hippos were pegged back when Kayondo was judged to have brought down danger man Mbareck in the area for the hosts to take a lead with Sanghare smashing his penalty into the top corner giving Jack Komakech no chance in goal.
However, the Hippos remained and character and continued to pressure Mauritania even after the break.
Aziz Kayondo, handed a man of the match accolade, put in a mature performance with explosive runs going forward and defended as required.
Uganda had a chance to level the game when Asaba beat the defence with pace and trickery down the left flank but his last touch to find a white shirt in the box was poor.
At the hour mark, Sserwadda got the breakthrough thanks to good interplay from the boys to slot home, a goal that underlined the quality of the offensive players.
The Hippos looked like they had run out of steam as Mauritania started to grow into the game, however, their threats failed to materialize.
Byekwaso brought on fresh legs with Yiga, Ivan Eyam and Kakooza introduced.
Uganda almost conceded late when Sanghare robbed from Gavin Kizito but Ssemakula Kenneth blocked the effort before Komakech collected the ball.
The deciding highlight presented itself from Kayondo corner that was handled by Sarr for Kakooza to score the winner.
Uganda will face the top team in Group B – Burkina Faso or Tunisia – on 26 February 2021 at the Stade Municipal de Nouadhibou in the quarterfinal.
For Mauritania, they will have to wait for other groups as well to see if they can earn a place I’m the knockout as one of the two third placed teams.
Uganda Hippos – Jack Komakech, Aziz Kayondo, Musa Ramathan, Gavin Kizito Mugweri, Kenneth Ssemakula, Steven Sserwadda, Isma Mugulusi, Ivan Asaba, Richard Basangwa, Bobosi Byaruhanga, Samuel Ssenyonjo
Mauritania – Mohamed El Mokhtar, Mohamed Sarr, Mohamed Ahmed, Abderrahmane Chighaly, Oumar Mbareck, Mohamed Diop, Bilal El Mokhtar, Adama Diop, Silly Sanghare, Abou Oumar Diallo, Amar Haidara.