KAMPALA, Uganda, Dec 19 – Hosts Uganda Cranes beat Eritrea 3-0 to clinch a record extending 15th CECAFA Senior Challenge title at the Lugogo Complex in Kampala on Thursday afternoon.
Goals neither half from Bright Anukani, Mustafa Kiizaand Joel Madondo handed the home side victory and a title at last for head coach Jonathan McKinstry who coincidentally lost it to Uganda in the 2015 final in Ethiopia with his former employers Rwanda.
Uganda had started brightly, pinning Eritrea in their own half.
They thought they had broken the lead after 12 minutes, but Allan Okello’s header off a Mustafa Kiiza freekick was ruled out for offside.
Uganda kept pushing, though Eritrea were compact and left little spaces just like they did against Kenya in the semis. But, their resistance was finally broken in the 32nd minutes.
A defense splitting pass from Okello was met with an equally brilliant run by Anukani who broke into the box and simply placed the ball beyond the Eritrean keeper.
On the other end, Eritrea almost made an immediate response but Uganda had had their keeper Charles Lukwago to thank after his trailing leg turned Ali Suleman’s shot from inside the box behind for a corner.
Uganda should have been 2-0 up at the break but Fahad Bayo’s header off a Viane Sekajugo cross went straight to the keeper.
In the second half Eritrea came in with an ambition to get an early goal but found it hard to make the right decisions in the fi al third of attack.
The closest they came was in the 63rd minute when Robel Kidane’s shot from a Deyben Hintseab pass went over.
Uganda picked the cue and took the game to comfort, Kiiza scoring with a low shot after the Eritrean backline failed to clear a cross from Karim Watambala.
The goal punctured Eritrean spirits and the Ugandans got their hold with Okello forcing the keeper into two good saves while Anukani had a shot from range go just over.
Substitute Joel Madondo drove the final nail on Eritrea’s coffin when he slammed the ball home from close range after running into a Ben Ochen cross from the left.
With their fans behind them, Uganda managed to hold on to the lead and celebrate another victory on home soil, just as they did when they last hosted the tournament in 2012.