Uganda’s Hippos Qualify for a Continental Final

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Uganda’s U20 side the Hippos set a date with Ghana in the continental finals of the U20 category. They achieved the feet by thrashing a Tunisia side 4-1 thanks to goals from Richard Basangwa in the 5th minute of the game and a hat trick from Derrick Kakooza to ensure the match was put to bed by the Cranes. Kakooza secored the only hat trick of the tournament so far.

His 3 goals got from the match takes his goal tally to 5 goals in the tournament making him the top marksman of the competition. His first goal of the game had put him level on goals with Ghana’s Percious Boah who has 3 goals but the 2 second half strikes made him move 2 goals clear of his competitor before the mouthwatering final between the two sides on Saturday.

Tunisia had eliminated Morocco in the quarterfinals on penalties just like the Hippos did against Burkina Faso. Unlike the quarterfinals, this game was entertaining right from the start to finish with both teams passing the ball around rather comfortably and creating chances at both ends. However, it was Uganda that showed a lot of anger with the number of chances created and being clinical in front of goal especially that young man Derrick Kakooza.

Basangwa opened the scoring with a great finish on the turn, he was at the end of Gavin Kizito’s (captain of the day) cross, turned his man, and shot a low drive to beat Elias Damergy. Basangwa was a constant threat on the left wing and in the 36th minute, he turned has man around and provided the cross that Kakooza only had to tap in to ensure a two goal cushion.

Tunisia’s Ben Lamin ensured both teams went into half time with only a goal to separate them when he capitalized on a rebound off Jack Komakech to make it 2-1 after 45 minutes.

With only 5 minutes played in the second half, Kakooza was on the end of a looping header after being fed by a long ball from Bobosi Byaruhanga to make it 3-1. Tunisia felt they were undone when a Hippos defender handled the ball in the 18 yard box but the referee felt it was not worthy a penalty.

With 15 minutes left in the contest, Kakooza rounded off his hat trick with a coolly finish past to extend the score line to 4-1. At this stage there was little that the Tunisians would do but rather see off the match with little pressure at the Hippos’ goal.

This is the first times that the Hippos are involved in a continental competition of this age group and they have gone all the way to the finals. Setting up a final with Ghana is reminiscent of the only final that Uganda has been involved in on the African continent which was won by Ghana by 2-0 back in 1978.

This team has now edged closer to the $200,000 (Sh740M) winning cash prize promised by Uganda’s soccer governing body FUFA if they win the tournament.

Notable mentions in this team include captain Gavin Kizito at right back, Azizi Kayondo at left back who has been brilliant throughout the tournament, Derrick Kakooza the team’s top scorer, Richard Basangwa who is always a menace at the left wing, the towering Bobosi Byaruhanga, Isma Mugulusi, Musa Ramathan, Kenneth Semakula, Steven Sserwadda, Najib Yiga, and of course Jack Komakech.