Tito Okello Odong was on target as South Sudan registered a memorable 1-0 victory over Uganda Cranes during the AFCON 2021 qualifiers at Nyayo National Stadium, in Nairobi yesterday.
Okello, one of the nationalized players on South Sudan’s team converted a 35th-minute penalty. The penalty arose after a foul in the forbidden area by defender Halid Lwaliwa in the goal area.
Moments before the goal, Uganda Cranes had lost a man when Khalid Aucho received marching off orders from Benin FIFA Referee Djindo Louis Houngnandande for a professional foul.
Uganda Crane’s most clear chance at goal came in the second half through Faruku Miya’s free-kick that hit the crossbar and bounce onto the line.
South Sudan also lost a player when second-half substitute Musa Abdallah was red-carded for a foul on Emmanuel Arnold Okwi.
In the game proper, it was a game of balanced moments.
Makuweth Wol had a 22nd-minute shot on target that was easily tamed by Captain Denis Onyango
Two minutes later, Nicholas Wakiro Wadada delivered a teasing an inviting cross that was not met by anyone.
Towards the half-hour mark, Faruku Miya’s free-kick nearly missed the target from 30 yards.
South Sudan gained a numerical advantage in the 33rd minute when Aucho whistled down Wol near the goal area.
The referee Houngnandande did not hesitate to send off the burly Uganda Cranes midfielder but the resultant free-kick from David Omot from 20 yards missed the target by inches.
It was South Sudan’s joy again in the 35th minute as Wol was brought down by Lwaliwa in the penalty area.
Tito Okello, currently employed at Gor Mahia struck the resultant penalty kick in the net, sending Onyango the wrong way.
Uganda Cranes’ technical bench immediately reacted with a tactical substitution.
William Kizito Luwagga was rested for midfielder Mike Azira in the 40th minute.
Moments later, Miya had another free-kick cleared away but the rebound by Azira was a routine collection by goalkeeper Majik.
The final piece of the action for the opening half witnessed Tito Okello combine with Wol Makuweth but the ball sailed out of play.
When the second half kick, Uganda Cranes further made more changes.
Debutant Disan Galiwango and Karim Watambala were replaced by Elvis Bwomono and Okwi respectively.
This meant that Cranes shifted to a three-man defense line with Timothy Awany on the left and Bwomono at right-back as Wadada was shifted to right-wing attack.
Three minutes into the second half, Allan Okello got fouled by South Sudan captain Peter Manyang but the free-kick from Miya was foiled by goalkeeper Majik.
Substitute, Ivan Wani who plies his trade at Busoga United in the Uganda Premier League then set up Tito Okello who shot on the first time and won a corner-kick for South Sudan in the 55th minute.
At the hour mark, Okwi’s shot was stopped by the goalkeeper Majik but Miya blasted over the rebound.
At this time, Uganda made yet another change, introducing Edrisa Lubega for Wadada.
Miya had a free corner-kick delivery tapped wide by defender Awany after 65 minutes before the former also witnessed a free-kick miss target by a close range.
South Sudan’s Musa Abdallah who plays at AFC Leopards in Kenya was cautioned for a dangerous foul on Allan Okello after 67 minutes.
Bwomono had a cross from the right well defended as the minutes trickled away.
In the 73rd minute, Miya’s would-be equalizer that hit the crossbar and bounced over the goal line was not indicated by the referee as Uganda sought for a much-needed equalizer in vain.
South Sudan lost the numerical advantage when Musa was red-carded for a wild lunge on Okwi after a second caution.
With victory in sight, South Sudan resorted to delaying tactics and goalkeeper Majak was cautioned for time-wasting with 5 minutes to play.
Allan Okello was rested for striker Derrick Nsibambi as the Cranes threw on the third centre forward.
Deep in added time, Onyango left his goalposts and was involved in a free-kick moment off Miya’s delivery.
Wani got cautioned for a foul on Edrisa Lubega before the referee called for full time, much to the celebrations of the South Sudanese players, fans in the terraces, and elsewhere.
This was the first victory for South Sudan in 4 games of the campaign taking them to three points.
The victory for South Sudan keeps their hopes of qualification alive with two more rounds to play.