KAMPALA, March 29 – Uganda Cranes were held to a goalless draw at home by Burkina Faso in their 2017 African Cup of Nations qualifier played at Namboole’s Mandela national Stadium on Tuesday night.
Cranes were hoping to collect maximum points after losing 1-0 away to Burkina Faso last week, to give their fallen former team-mate Abel Dhaira a perfect send-off after the goalkeeper died on Sunday.
And that manifested in the way the Cranes approached the game, with Emmanuel Okwi coming in for Godfrey Walusimbi.
Uganda had more options upfront but had to first overcome Burkinabe’s defense that was led by Bakary Kone.
Head coach Micho Sredejovic also opted for Hassan Wasswa Mawanda in defense for Murishid Juuko who was suspended for the tie.
Wasswa’s experience was evident as his pairing with Isaac Isinde kept goalkeeper Denis Onyango with little work to do between the posts.
The Cranes looked lively, committing and pushing forward compared to the game in Ouagadougou where they spent more time in their own half than that of the opponent.
Under three minutes, Dayo Issoufou kept the ball in play, Farouk Miya was undecided between shooting and crossing, the ball went begging. Ten minutes into play, Tonny Mawejje’s cross hit the crossbar in some of the attacks Uganda made.
The long ball to catch Burkina Faso on counter seemed not to work for Uganda as the former’s custodian Douda Diakite always read them.
With the wings being the main source of creative, Kizito Luwaga was tasked to find loop holes in Burkina Faso’s attack, for Miya, Massa and Emmanuel Okwi as the main source of goals.
By the 25th, the visitors had settled into the game, and passed with comfort while Uganda did the chasing, Wasswa, Isinde and Mawejje were solid.
The second half was always going to be decided by who dominates the midfield, Mawejje and Khalid Aucho had to step up.
With right back Denis Guma offering little in attack, Joseph Ochaya always contributed with his teasing runs and cross.
Wasswa was booked in the 63 minute after both sets of players were involved in an uncalled-for scuffle. Later Onyango made his first serious safe, intercepting a cross from Bertrand Traore who had already beaten Isinde and Ochaya.
Moses Oloya was Uganda’s first change, coming on for Okwi, while the Vietnam’s based player was coming on, the game’s first shot on target also came in from Massa.
Massa and Miya in turns mixed glorious chances, the latter made way for Orlando Pirates midfielder Yasser Mugerwa.
Alain Traore came on for Nakoulma Prejuce as the West Africans also tried to look for a winner, gigantic striker Aristide Bance was thrown on in the last ten minutes. By far Cranes best player on the night Mawejje also paved way for striker Erisa Sekisambu, his first real opportunity was missing the rebound after Massa’s header hit the woodwork.
Burkinabe’s captain Charles Kabore was also shown matching orders for a late tackle on Luwagga as the Cranes pushed again. Oloya was the other to miss a would be winner in the dying minutes but his left foot let him and the country down as the ref blew the final whistle moments later.
Both teams now improve their points to seven with two rounds of games to be played, but Burkina Faso lead the pool with a superior head to head compared to Uganda.