SINAN RAJUB SENOGA
Crested Cranes 2-1 Kampala Region Select
The Crested Cranes nearly played to a shocking stalemate with the “little known” Kampala select team in the first ever regional tour match.
The Kampala select assembled and coach by the legendary tactician Ayub Khalifa comprised of entirely young girls who surprisingly rubbed shoulders with the country’s best until the full-time whistle.
Not even inadequacies in size, squad depth, maturity and experience could deter the talented young starlets from giving the national senior team a run for their money.
Anita Namata scored the first goal of the game (Fufa Media)
The Crested Cranes went in the lead in the 28th minute courtesy of debutant Anita Namata who rounded the onrushing goalkeeper Esther Akujo after being fed by her Kawempe Muslim teammate Juliet Nalukenge.
Even before the proceedings, it all looked like the game was destined for a one sided affair and perhaps a cricket score for the national side but that wasn’t the case.
The Kampala select led by their diminutive captain Shakira Nyinagahirwe of Kawempe Junior team, Regina Nantege, Summaya Kyomuhendo and Sophia Nakiyingi among others weren’t going down so easily even after conceding.
Kampala’s Shakira Nyinagahirwe challenges Namata. Nyinagahirwe was intergral in Kampala select team (Fufa Media)
After a couple of wonderful interplays and futile attacks, the Kampala team were handed a glorious chance to level the scoreline after the teasing Nantege was bundled by defender Shadia Nankya in the box.
Sophia Nakiyingi stepped up and flawlessly beat the trying gloves of Ruth Aturo from the penalty mark.
The second half saw Farida Bulega make a complete overhaul of the team bringing on nine new players with only Nankya and Aisha Namukisa the unchanged.
The new blood in Resty Nanziri, Lillian Mutuuzo, Shamira Nalugya and Fauzia Najjemba was always going to be an overdose for the young starlets who only had limited numbers on the bench as the options.
Crested Cranes starting eleven (Fufa Media)
Ayub Khalifa and his worn out charges were also dealt by the scorching sun in a mix with the astro turf of the Lugogo StarTimes stadium.
Nanziri and Najjemba (twice) had their efforts beat the goalkeeper but couldn’t beat the woodwork before another match defining moment happened when the tricky Mutuuzo was brought down inside the box in the 70th minute.
However, Zainah Namuleme who had taken over the captain’s armband at the restart, saw her penalty exquisitely saved by steady hands of Esther Akujo.
It then looked like a game destined for a one-all draw but Nanziri had a different idea.
The Kampala Queens striker put the Crested Cranes back in the lead with a sublime long range shot from the left hand side of attack with 12 minutes on the clock and ultimately saved the national team from a shocking draw.
Kampala select team (Fufa Media)
The Kampala select pushed for a leveler but in vain.
At full time, Ayub Khalifa was proud of the display from his team select
” My team has played to my instructions and they played a good game against a senior team. I think I lost because I got less number of jerseys which limited my substitutions compared to the Crested Cranes who had 23 players on the bench.”
The four time league winning coach also spared a thought on the Women’s regional tour initiative.
” This is a wonderful project and I think we are going to get more talent but my request would be instead of limiting the players to regional only, let’s open it to cover all the other players. For example, if the national team is picked then the remaining players should play and maybe we can discover new talent to fed the national team.”
Referee Anna Akoyi tosses the coin as captains Tracy Jones Akiror and Shakira Nyinagahirwe observe (Fufa Media)
Team Line Ups:
Uganda Crested Cranes XI;
Ruth Aturo (G.K), Viola Namuddu, Margret Birabwa, Aisha Namukisa, Shadia Nankya, Tracy Jones Akiror, Anita Namata, Phiona Nabbumba, Juliet Nalukenge, Hasifa Nassuna, Monica Namwase
Daisy Nakaziro, Wilmer Nantumbwe, Phoebe Banura, Teddy Najjuma, Lillian Mutuuzo, Shamirah Nalugya, Resty Nanziri, Zaina Namuleme, Fauzia Najjemba, Damalie Matama, Vanessa Karungi, Juliet Adeke
Kampala Region XI;
Esther Akujo (G.K), Uditer Basemere, Juliet Namubiru, Rita Mushimire, Immaculate Abba, Regina Nantege, Halima Kanyago, Sumaya Kyomuhendo, Sophia Nakiyingi, Hadijja Nandago, Shakira Nyingaghirwe
Brenda Kasana, Rebecca Nakato, Allen Nassozi, Justine Namuli, Latifa Nakasi, Sandra Nakamya, Josephine Nalule, Naiga Mayimuna, Olivia Nassali, Monica Nalubega, Patricia Busingye, Shanita Nalubwama