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BY SAMSON MBII,22ND JUNE 2019-Uganda Cranes on Saturday begun their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations tittle race with victory Democratic Republic of Congo 2-0 in an entertaining Group A match staged at the Cairo International Stadium .
The victory, courtesy of Patrick Kaddu and Emmanuel Okwi’s headed efforts, took Uganda top of Group A with three points, with hosts Egypt, who edged Zimbabwe 1-0 a day earlier, second on goal difference.
Kaddu’s glancing header off a Faruku Miya corner on 15 minutes was the first scored by Uganda in their opening match in 41 years.
Only that then, the goal came late as Uganda lost 3-1 to Congo Brazzaville.
This is also Uganda’s first three points at the finals since a 2-1 semi-final win over Nigeria en route to the 1978 Afcon final.
Incidentally, DRC started the better side here, Yannick Bolasie missing a header with Denis Onyango beaten.
Making his competitive debut for the Cranes, winger Abdu Lumala beat his man on the right with the Sweden-based player’s cross headed out for a corner.
Miya delivered the resultant dead-ball and like he did against Cape Verde to confirm Uganda’s qualification to these finals with a game to spare, Kaddu stayed up longest to head in past goalkeeper Ley Matampi.
Kaddu raced to Miya and they did their little dance as coach Sebastien Desabre punched away at and in the air. The goal generated enough noise it didn’t matter it was nearly an empty stadium.
“We are very happy to start the tournament with a win and two goals against a very good team but this is not the time to relax,” Desabre.
The Cranes could have gone two and three nil up but Kaddu thereafter failed to connect home two successive headers.
Congo’s best chance yet came on the stroke of half time when Cedric Bakambu controlled in the area before turning and curling but skipper Denis Onyango tipped it away.
DRC were supposed to respond after half time.
Instead it’s the Cranes who extended their lead, Okwi was fouled and Miya’s yet another dead-ball was brushed in by the Simba striker for 2-0 moments into the second period.
“We played a very difficult team, Uganda who are hard to play against. We just have to work hard,” said DRC coach Florent Ibenge.