Uganda played the perfect first half to beat Kenya 7-2 in the first leg of the second round of the FIFA U-20 World Cup qualifying in Nairobi on Saturday.
Ayub Khalifa’s protégés met from the beginning until well into stoppage time in the first half and broke off with a 6-0 lead.
Juliet Nalukenge showed why Fufa pulled out all the stops to fly her in from Cyprus, where she recently signed for Apollon Limassol, when she hit captain Fauzia Najjemba’s cross in the second minute.
Almost 15 minutes later, she received a long ball from her defense and played it in Margaret Kunihira’s path to shoot into Kenya’s goalkeeper Ursula Nasimiyu for the second time.
In the 21st minute, Najjemba scored Uganda’s third goal after a rebound after a nearly similar play when Nasimiyu Kunihira’s shot parried back into play.
The trio that terrorized the defense when Uganda’s U-17 won the Cecafa and Cosafa Cups in 2019 before heading to a World Cup qualifier run against Cameroon last year due to Covid-19 on the shoulder ended prematurely, was there again.
Goals surprise Khalifan
Shortly thereafter, Nalukenge won a penalty after Kenyan captain Peris Oside rattled her in the penalty area. Shamirah Nalugya stepped forward and duly entered the match sheets.
Nalukenge then doubled her money for Uganda’s fifth in 35th after cushioning a long ball from her keeper Daphine Nyayenga and then hurling it decisively over Nasimiyu. Left-back Sumaya Komuntale then scored Uganda’s sixth place after an injury-time free kick in the first verse.
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“We got the result we wanted, but I was also surprised by the number of goals,” said Khalifa, who for a moment couldn’t even remember whether it was six or seven.
“We shouldn’t have given up, but you can’t blame the girls after a win like that.”
Uganda tried to control possession in the second half without injuring their opponents, but that allowed the Kenyan side to save some pride with two consolation goals from Shaylene Opisa in the 61st and 79th minutes. But Komuntale made sure that the tour group returned home five goals ahead of the second leg on October 8th. The Tooro Queens player shot home with her weaker foot after the Kenyans half-heartedly cleared a Nalugya corner kick in the 88th minute.