Uganda stun Kenya to win Cecafa Under-18 tourney

Friday December 08 2023

Uganda's players celebrate after winning the Cecafa Under-18 Boys tournament final match at Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium in Kisumu County, Kenya on December 8, 2023. PHOTO | NMG


Uganda came from behind to beat Kenya 2-1 in the final of the 2023 Cecafa Under 18 Boys tournament at the Jomo Kenyatta Stadium in Kisumu on Friday.

The hosts were the first to score through Syphas Owuor before Uganda equalised with 12 minutes to go through Batiibwe Okello to force extra time.

Hakim Mutebi then struck just 50 seconds into extra time to seal the title for the Uganda Cranes juniors, to leave the packed stadium stunned.


The Cecafa Under-18 trophy on display at Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium in Kisumu County, Kenya. PHOTO | NMG

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Uganda head coach, Morley Byekwaso, was over the moon with the win but admitted Kenya was a tough opponent.


"The Kenyan team proved to be a formidable opponent. We faced challenges in securing a goal in the first half," said Byekwaso.

"We devoted significant effort to preparation leading up to today's match, and I extend my gratitude to my players for the positive outcome. Their dedication and hard work were apparent on the field, playing a crucial role to secure the championship."

Kenya’s assistant coach Anthony Akhulia congratulated the boys for reaching the final.

“We failed to maintain our momentum after securing the first goal. This is what worked against us, but it is football and we congratulate our opponents,” said Akhulia.

It was a tightly contested first-half encounter with both teams creating few goal scoring chances.

Junior Stars could have gone ahead in 15th and 17th minutes.

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Kariobangi Sharks forward Humprey Aroko saw his effort saved by Ugandan custodian Abdu Magada on 15 minutes.

Baron Ochieng’s shot was blocked by Ugandan defender Collins Oku and the ball fell on Aroko, but the Highway Secondary School student squandered the chance to score.

Aroko then picked up Louis Ingavi two minutes later, but the Juniors Stars number nine was caught in an offside position while in a pole position to score.


Kenya's Syphas Owuor (L) and Uganda's Innocent Kisolo vie for the ball during the final of the Cecafa Under-18 Boys Championship at Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium in Kisumu County, Kenya on December 8, 2023. PHOTO | NMG

Ingavi was then picked up by Owuor in the 39th minute but he shot the ball off target as Junior Stars put pressure on their opponents.

Coach Salim Babu made two changes to the side in the 40th minute, subbing off Aroko for Aldrine Kibet, who had started the game on the bench and also brought on Lucas Maina for Joseph Omuse.

Maina nearly scored a screamer in the 44th minute but his shot went over the bar.

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In the first half, the physical Ugandan juniors rarely penetrated Kenya's defence.

Substitute Tyrone Kariuki, on for Elly Owande at the start of the second half, did some good job on the flanks in the 54th minute to find Owuor who shot straight at the keeper.

Kenya netted in the 65th minute after a long ball from custodian Ibrahim Wanzala landed on Owuor's path who beat Maganda with a low shot to the far-left post.

Uganda restored parity when Stars defenders failed to clear a free-kick and Okello tapped the ball home.

With the regular time ending in a 1-1 draw, the duel was decided in the extra time.

Uganda bagged the title when Mutebi capitalised on rebound to net the winner.