2023 Afcon Qualifiers: Uganda 1-1 Niger - Cranes frustrated despite Karisa’s delightful strike
Uganda vs Niger.
Fufa.
The Cecafa record champions are now without a win in their first two Group F matches of the qualifiers

Niger collected their second point in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers after frustrating Uganda in a 1-1 draw at the St Mary’s Stadium on Wednesday.

Milton Karisa and Mahamadou Sabo’s goals saw the sides share points in an entertaining match held in Entebbe.

Meanwhile, after promising signs for Uganda to get a goal in the opening minutes, Emmanuel Okwi had a chance to put them ahead but his effort, in a crowded area, was deflected away in the ninth minute.

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The Cranes had a nice build-up and Fahad Bayo spotted Okwi in a promising situation, but the latter was denied as Niger reacted quickly to defend their goal area after initially leaving it isolated.

Niger survived again in the 14th minute when goalkeeper Daouda Kassaly reacted to clear a dangerous ball brought into the box by an overlapping Aziz Kayondo when the Cranes turned to launch more of their attacks from the wings.

Kassaly once again saved his side from going behind when he stopped a ferocious shot from Bayo. The former Vipers SC striker found some shooting space on the right side of the penalty box, but he was unlucky as the visiting goalkeeper dived in the right direction and punched the ball back into play.

Miya collected the loose ball and tried to find the top left corner, but Kassaly parried it away for a corner. Niger finally stopped the Ugandan siege when they cleared Bobosi Byaruhanga’s corner.

In the 34th minute, Bayo could not head past Kassaly as his header went out after receiving a swinging cross from Karisa, who was causing havoc on the left wing.

After moments of miscommunication in Niger’s area, Miya could have found the back of the net with the final shot, which went out in the 37th minute.

Karisa finally broke the deadlock with a delightful cross-cum-shot from a tight angle in the 43rd minute. His volleying strike went over the head of Kassaly – who had seemed unbeatable in Niger’s goal – as the Cecafa nation went ahead in a dominant first half.

Uganda’s first change came in the 53rd minute when Miya was withdrawn and Allan Kyambadde was introduced. This was after Niger had made substitutions, with Abdoul Razak coming on for Abdoul Nasser and Issa Ibrahim replacing Boubacar Magid in the 46th minute.

With an equally delightful effort, Niger grabbed an equaliser when Sabo’s strike in the 71st minute hit the top corner.

After Daniel Sosah collected the ball at the centre of the pitch, he made a few steps forward before he picked out the goalscorer, who sumptuously sent a flying shot that beat Lukwago, who had not been tested much in the second half.

In a bid to strengthen his backline, coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic replaced Gavin Kizito with Isaac Muleme. Despite the substitution, Uganda were lucky not to concede in the 89th and 90th minutes when Lukwago and Lwaliwa made vital blocks to deny Sabo.

The result means Uganda have collected just one point in Group, while Niger have two after a previous one-all draw against Tanzania.