AFCON 2021 Qualifiers (Group B)
Uganda Cranes out-muscled the Malawi Flames 2-0 during a group B AFCON 2021 qualifier at the largely empty Mandela National Stadium, Namboole on Sunday.
A goal in each half by Emmanuel Arnold Okwi and Fahad Okwi inspired the Cranes to their first victory in the qualifiers following a goal-less stalemate away with Burkina Faso in Ouagadougou.
Okwi fired home the first after 29 minutes and Bayo got the second with a clinical curl with 22 minutes left on the clock.
Edgar Kazibwe | Kawowo Sports
Emmanuel Arnold Okwi celebrates the opening goal followed by Fahad Bayo against Malawi Flames
Uganda Cranes kick-started the game on a high footing when roving left back Joseph Benson Ochaya delivered an in-swinging cross from the left flank but it failed to find the intended target with just two minutes into the game.
The home side won the first corner-kick of the game after a Nico Wakiro Wadada’s cross from the right was blocked by the Malawi Flames skipper John Banda.
A minute later, Wadada had yet another cross but it was a heavy touch onto the ball.
The visiting team real first threat towards the Ugandan goal was a block by Miya off Orlando Pirates forward Hellings Gabadihno Mhango’s shot from 20 yards after 8 minutes.
On the quarter hour mark, striker Fahad Bayo arrived late to connect with Ochaya’s cross from the left wing.
Two minutes later, Ochaya conceded a corner kick after a mistimed headed clearance.
On 20 minutes, Uganda Cranes defender Murushid Juuko was lucky to escape a caution from Sudanese referee Mahmood Mahmood Ismail after a careless tackle onto Mbulu.
Two minutes later, Emmanuel Arnold Okwi rounded up Gomezgani Chirwa but the resultant cross found Bayo in a wrong position
William Luwagga Kizito blasted over an overhead volley following Wadada’s assist with the header on 23 minutes.
Cranes remained the offensive side when Bayo arrived late to meet Miya’s telling delivery from the right flank after 24 minutes.
Goalie Onyango had a routine collection following a shot from distance by Mbulu in the 27th minute.
The game came to life with Okwi’s opener after 28 minutes.
Ochaya delivered a long cross into the area that Okwi controlled with a sublime first touch before blasting the ball into the roof of the net.
Gabadihno got cautioned for bitterly protesting a referee’s decision in the 31st minute.
Bayo raced onto Ochaya’s long ball from defence but Miya hesitated to shoot after being set up.
Later, Okwi laid the ball for the roving Nico Wadada but the resultant cross intended for Bayo was collected by goalkeeper Brighton Munthali.
William Luwagga Kizito drives the ball past two Malawi players
After 38 minutes, goalie Onyango got injured after reacting fast to collect a well delivered free-kick by Gerald Phiri Junior.
With 5 minutes to end the half, Ochaya reacted faster to tame a through ball from Phiri.
The lower post bottom denied Miya’s opportunity to double Uganda Cranes’ lead with three minutes to the end of the opening stanza.
The visitors called for a change towards the end of the first half when Chimango Kayira replaced Idana Chimwemwe.
Malawi had the final attempt towards goal in the opening half when Mbulu shot wide from an acute angle on the right wing.
Miya hits the lower bottom of the left post to de as Uganda held onto for a half time lead.
Miya’s 51st minut free-kick found Bayo in an off-side even after the Vipers Sports Club forward had headed the ball towards goalie Munthali.
Gabadihno checked Onyango with a shot from an acute angle on the left wing that left defender Juuko injured.
The Moroccoan based center half failed to recover well in time to continue with play as his place was taken by Denis Timothy Awany ten minutes into the second half.
On the hour mark, Luwagga beat his marker on the by-line but his cut back was tapped wide by Miya from close range.
Almost immediately, Luwagga set up Miya whose first time pass was mis-controlled by Okwi inside the goal area.
Uganda Cranes’ second change witnessed youngster Allan Okello take on Luwagga’s slot in the 66th minute.
Bayo made it two with a clinical finish from 20 yards after dispossessing Peter Cholopi.
Fahad Bayo in action against Malawi
Malawi called off Gerald Phiri Junior and he was replaced by Robin Ngalande with 20 minutes left on the clock.
Midfielder Khalid Aucho recovered from a slight knock in the final quarter of the game
Substitute Ngalande shot way off target in the 77th minute as the Flames desperately raced up for a consolation.
Midfielder Aucho, who features at Egyptian top tier sider Mersakara limped out for another Egyptian based midfielder Tadeo Lwanga, who plays at Tanta with 9 minutes to play.
Malawi’s final change was in the 83rd minute when striker Gabadihno came out for Hassan Kajoke.
Okwi shot off target from 25 yards as minutes fast ticked down the drain.
Malawi had a penalty appeal turned down when Bevis Mugabi’s ball to hand incident was turned down by the referee.
The final whistle by Sudanese referee Mahmood Mahmood Ismail was greeted with wild applause from the players, fans in the stands and the technical bench led by McKinstry who registered maximum points on his first home mission.
Uganda Cranes now get to four points from two matches as Malawi who out-witted South Sudan in the opener remains on three points.
Team Line Ups:
Uganda Cranes XI: Denis Onyango (GK, Captain), Nico Wakiro Wadada, Joseph Benson Ochaya, Bevis Mugabi, Murushid Juuko (57’ Timothy Denis Awany), Khalid Aucho (81’ Tadeo Lwanga), Mike Azira, Faruku Miya, Emmanuel Arnold Okwi, Fahad Bayo, William Luwagga Kizito (67’ Allan Okello)
Subs Not Used: Robert Odongkara (GK), Charles Lukwago (GK), Halid Lwaliwa, , William Kizito, Allan Kyambadde, Isaac Muleme, Hassan Wasswa Mawanda, Henry Patrick Kaddu
Malawi XI: Brighton Munthali (G.K), Stanley Sanudi, Peter Cholopi, Lucky Malata, Idana Chimwemwe (45’ Chimango Kayira), Richard Mbulu, Gerald Phiri Junior (70’ William Kilipota Thole), Hellings Gabadihno Mhango (83’ Hassan Kajoke), John Banda (Captain), Chirwa Gomezgani, Chester Yamikani
Subs Not Used: Trevor Kalema, Chikoti Chirwa, Miciam Mhone, Nickson Nyasulu, Peter Banda
Team captains Denis Onyango (second left) with the Malawian counterpart John Banda and the match officials prior to kick off
Center Referee: Mahmood Mahmood Ismail (Sudan)
1st Assistant Referee: Omer Hamid Mohamed Ahmed (Sudan)
2nd Assistant Referee: Abdelgabar Mohamed Abdelgabar (Sudan)
Fourth Official: Elsiddig Mohamed Eltreefe (Sudan)
Commissioner: Aimable Habimana (Burundi)