Uganda Cranes has lost 3-2 to South Africa’s Bafana Bafana in an international build up game played at the Orlando Stadium, Soweto in South Africa on Thursday.
The South Africans came from a goal down to ensure Uganda doesn’t emerge victorious in Soweto.
Today’s international friendly encounter came under scrutiny after Uganda Cranes players including Onyango, Hassan Wasswa Mawanda and Micheal Azira announced their international retirement after failing to qualify for the 2021 AFCON.
It was a nervous start for both sides, particularly for the home side, as they had five debutants starting the match.
However, after the 15th-minute mark, the visitors were warmed up enough to take the match to Bafana Bafana, and their attacking urgency paid off immediately.
Captain Emmanuel Okwi opted to put in an early cross before entering the final third of the pitch. On the receiving end, Ibrahim Orit beat Craig Martin to the ball to head it beyond Ronwen Williams’s reach.
Four minutes later, the Cranes were in with a chance to double their lead after Sibusiso Mabiliso’s failed attempt at clearing the danger resulted in the ball bouncing off Okwi, who then darted forward with the ball at his feet.
However, Williams did well in making himself big enough for Okwi to miss the target as the ball went wide.
At the sound of the whistle for half-time, South Africa did not record any shot at goal while committing ten fouls, while the Ugandans tested Williams on six occasions with two shots on target.
Mkhalele rang the changes for the second stanza as the inform Thabiso Kutumela and Evidence Makgopa replaced Denwin Farmer and Nkosinathi Sibisi.
The introduction of the two players proved to be pivotal as they were the key pairing for Bafana’s equaliser as the home side switched from a 3-4-3 formation to a more familiar 4-3-3 formation.
Just 15 minutes after the restart, Kutumela dazzled his way forward after receiving the ball from midfield and teed up Makgopa, who levelled matters with the slightest of touches as he leapt forward to get a boot on the ball to score on his debut.
Two minutes later, Bafana Bafana took the lead through another player featuring for the first time in senior national colours.
Uganda showed tired legs, and South Africa took advantage.
Bongokuhle Hlongwane latched onto the ball in the 18th area and brushed off a red shirt before pulling the trigger, which took a fortunate deflection but rattled the back of the net.
The Bafana boys began to show comfort on the ball, and Makgopa ended off a beautiful interplay to score his second goal of the encounter. That goal proved to be the all-important match-winner, as Uganda scored their second through Abdul Lumala in the dying minutes of the match.
With three minutes of stoppage time, Uganda searched for an equaliser, but the new-look Bafana Bafana held their nerve and patience to give the home side a morale-boosting win on home soil.
The two teams failed to qualify for the Total Africa Cup of Nations, Cameroon 2021 and will use today’s friendly to prepare ahead of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers which will start in September.
Uganda is pooled alongside Mali, Kenya and Rwanda in Group E of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers.