Uganda’s first Cecafa Women Championship final was always going to be delivered in pain. Firsts never come easy.
The calibre of opponent in Ethiopia was also never easy going as they have also never been to a Cecafa final while their past meetings with Uganda – at youth and senior levels – have served drama till the final whistle.
“The players have showed how focused they are,” Uganda coach George Lutalo said after his side beat Ethiopia 1-0, courtesy of Fazila Ikwaput acrobatic effort from captain Hasifah Nassuna’s corner kick in extra time.
This encounter served drama too but Uganda started strongly, with Sandra Nabweteme’s 16th minute effort kissing the cross bar.
After Nabweteme’s chance, the semifinal duel became a see-saw of a game with chances on either end.
Uganda started to pay their dues when Aisha Nantongo came off in the 30th minute, after taking a kick to the shin, allowing Kampala Queens defender Lukia Namubiru earn her debut.
Nalugya, who made way for Phionah Nabbumba in the second half, also had a freekick ricochet off the bar in the 36th minute. And it threatened to be a day of tough luck when Nabweteme and extra time substitute Sheebah Zalwango, who replaced Joan Nabirye, hit the bar again in the 57th and 108th minute respectively.
Ethiopia also had their noteworthy moments. In the 34th minute, Uganda captain Hasifah Nassuna lost the ball at the edge of the Ethiopian box and the counter attack ended with Rediet Assreshagn forcing a save from Daisy Nakaziro.
Lucy captain Loza Abera had a chance to win it in the 85th minute but Nakaziro swatted carefully.
Beyond the chances, Burundian referee Suavis Iratunga seemed to encourage the feistiness thereby irking the mammoth Ugandan fans from and later on nearly getting beaten by the Ethiopia players for two controversial calls at the death.
As Uganda celebrated their goal, Ethiopia restarted play and Abera had the ball in the back of the net but Iratunga ruled out the effort.
Shortly after, Ethiopia, insisted that Uganda left-back Sumaya Komuntale had cleared the ball off the line with her hand.
“We are happy to show that we qualified for the Africa Cup on merit. We beat Ethiopia in the qualifiers and today for our first (Cecafa) final,” Nassuna snapped in the press conference.
Daisy Nakaziro; Asia Nakibuuka, Sumaya Komuntale, Margaret Namirimu, Aisha Nantongo (Lukia Namubiru); Joan Nabirye (Sheebah Zalwango), Shamirah Nalugya (Phiona Nabbumba), Hasifah Nassuna; Sandra Nabweteme, Margaret Kunihira (Lillian Mutuuzo), Fazila Ikwaput