The Hippos of Uganda have booked their placed in the ongoing Total AFCON U-20 tournament in Mauritania thanks to a dominant display against North Africa side, Tunisia. The Hippos advanced with a 4 – 1 trouncing of their counterparts to make the historic final and ensure they have a last chance to go for gold in Mauritania.
When the Hippos of Uganda made their debut in the U-20 AFCON tournament in Mauritania, no one would have expected them to go very far despite entering the tournament as CECAFA champions. But the fairytale story of the Hippos is awakening to all tournament veterans and most especially Ghana who they face in the finals on Saturday.
The Ugandans kicked of their debut campaign with a 2-0 success over fellow debutants Mozambique at the Olympic Stadium in Nouakchott , Mauritania. This was after they edged out the Young Stallions of Burkina Faso in the quarter finals with a 5 – 3 post-match penalty shootout. They have a squad that boast of striker Ivan Bogere who plundered in five goals in the qualifying tournament for CECAFA zone held in Tanzania. They made mockery of the host in that final match when they beat them in their backyard by 4-1 to emerge champions and book a place in the competition proper in Mauritania. They topped their group in the CECAFA qualifiers after a 6 – 1 demolishing of Burundi and a goalless draw with South Sudan before a 3 – 1 win over Kenya in the semis that saw them through to the finals.
Their tournament campaign took off to a blistering start with the success over Mozambique in their first group game. The Mozambicans also entered the tournament as champions of the COSAFA zone qualifiers having cruised past Namibia by a lone goal in that final after a nerve-racking 5-4 penalty success over Zambia in the semi final. They had made Lesotho and Zimbabwe their victims in the groups stages with only South Africa being the sole level test for them in the group phase as they played out a draw to end a group topping campaign with seven points. The Hippos and Manbinhas were for the paper an even side but Coach Morley Byekwaso side had better ideas and emerged strong in a game of debutants.
Their hopes of success suffered a dent when they were beaten 1 – 0 by Cameroon in their second group game and had to come back strong against the host to secure a 2 – 1 victory that ensured they advanced as group A runners-up behind Cameroon. That victory was the catalyst for their recent success and they have their destiny fully wrapped in their hands to write further their name in the tournament history after coming hard on Tunisia courtesy of a Richard Basangwa 4th minute strike and man of the match, Derrick Kakooza’s hattrick which made Adam Ben Lamin’s 39th minute strike a mere consolation.
Coach Byekwaso’s young side will fancy their chances against the Black Satellites of Ghana when they face off on Saturday 6th March with glory as the prize. They may not have it easy against a resilient Ghana side who ensured Cameroon who are the only to team to have caused a dent in the Hippos credentials in the tournament thus far are back home in Cameroon preparing to watch the final showpiece on their television screens as audience instead of actors.
Till Saturday when we shall see who between the Satellites and the Hippos wins the bragging right in Mauritania, it is History, History, History in Magic for the Hippos of Uganda as they do Allez! Allez! Allez.