Uganda stunned ten-man Senegal 1-0 at the TotalEnergies African Nations Championship (CHAN) on Wednesday to keep alive their hopes of reaching the knock-out stages of the competition.
Captain Milton Karisa scored the lone goal to guide the Cranes to the victory on a cold and rainy night at the 19 May 1956 Stadium in Annaba at the ongoing tournament in Algeria.
Teranga Lions will rue thier missed opportunities as Cheikh Sidibe fluffed a penalty before Karisa pounced to net what turned out to be the winner for Uganda.
Senegal’s hopes of restoring parity were dashed in the 83rd minute when substitute Libasse Ngom was sent off for a serious foul, giving Uganda the numerical advantage to hold on to secure the win against the West African giants.
The Uganda defenders were resolute since the start of the game as the Senegalese attackers launched a series of attacks on their goal area before Karisa scored against the run of play.
The Vipers forward connected to a Kenneth Semakula pass to make an impressive tap-in past Senegal goalkeeper Pape Sy to send the Ugandan camp into celebrations in the 33rd minute.
The celebrations were called for after a dramatic half hour that saw Milutin Sredojevic’s side survive four Senegalese attempts to score that had the Ugandans on their toes soaking in all the pressure before surging forward to score.
Senegal had started the game on a high note controlling much of the ball but the Ugandans absorbed all the pressure and when in the 21st minute, Lamine Kamara got a chance to score from a freekick, his attempt went straight into the Ugandan wall.
Moussa Ndiaye was fouled in an aerial challenge by Frank Ssebufu in the penalty box and Tunisian referee Mehrez Melki pointed to the spot.
Sidibe stepped up to convert from six yards but his shot to the right corner was saved by Ugandan goalkeeper Nafian Alionzi who had quite a busy night.
Alionzi once again stood out when he blocked a freekick from five yards out as Senegal continued to waste chances in front of goal.
Geoffrey Wasswa was at fault for a needless back pass to Alionzi who was forced to touch the ball with his hand forcing a yellow card from Melki and an eventual freekick so close to the goal that the Ugandans were lucky not to concede.
Thereafter, Senegal’s Malick Mbaye sent a brilliant pass from the right to Cheikh Diouf who forced Alionzi into a one-on-one battle to come off his line but his effort went off the mark despite an empty goal.
As Senegal continued to control the momentum of the game, Uganda pounced on one chance and converted through Karisa to give the Cranes the lead.
Despite conceding, Senegal continued attacking Uganda and five minutes later Cheikh Sidibe made a quick run on the left wing but his attempt was picked up by Alionzi as Uganda continued to suck in the pressure from the Senegalese.
Six minutes into the second half, Karisa was brought down in the box and while it looked like a penalty, Melki consulted VAR and decided to wave play on.
Senegal continued to amass pressure on Uganda and eventually had 62% of the ball possession but when Libasse Ngom was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Abdu Karim Watambala, Senegal’s chances of winning started to diminish despite their spirited fight until the last minute of the game.
Uganda now sits on top of Group B with four points while Senegal are second with three points. DR Congo who drew with Côte d’Ivoire earlier in the day sit second with two points from two games while the Local Elephants sit bottom of the table.
This is Uganda’s first CHAN victory since beating Burkina Faso 2-1 at the 2014 edition in South Africa. The Cranes were winless at the 2016, 2018 and 2020 CHAN editions.