Uganda Hippos Defeat Central African Republic In AFCON U-20 Group Opener

Uganda’s National Under-20 team, the Hippos have kicked off their 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) with a 2-1 win over Central African Republic in a match played at Suez Canal Authority Stadium on Monday.  

Team Captain Isma Mugulusi and John Paul Dembe’s goals helped Coach Jackson Mayanja secure a perfect start in the 12-team tournament where they are participating for the second successive time. Boris Gbenou got the consolation goal for the Central African Republic.  

Uganda Hippos who reached the final of the last event held in Mauritania showed character when they dominated play from the opening minute of the game.

Travis Mutyaba, Isma Muguluusi, and Titus Ssematimba teamed to form a great midfield combination but failed to crack the Central African Republic’s defending depertment.

Ssematimba, Ivan Irinimbabazi, and Travis Mutyaba all had chances in the first few minutes but failed to capitalize on them.

Uganda was however fortunate not to concede in the opening minutes of the second half when Apollo Kakogwe’s overhead kick was ruled offside.

This however served as a wake-up call for the Hippos, sparking an attack that culminated in their first goal netted by skipper Isma Mugulusi, before John Paul Dembe doubled Uganda’s advantage in the 74th minute.

Uganda had more chances to punish their opponents through Ssematimba and Muguluusi, but they were not clinical enough to extend the lead, and the Central African Republic scored a late consolation goal.

The win takes Uganda to three points on top of group B together with Congo Brazzaville who also stopped South Sudan by the same margin.

Uganda will now have two days of rest and will return to action on Thursday for their second group game against Congo Brazzaville.  

The U-20 AFCON also serves as a qualifier for the Under-20 World Cup 2023, with the best four teams (semi-finalists) qualifying for the tournament later in Indonesia. Uganda’s team will just need to reach the semifinals to clinch a place in the World Cup.

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