Uganda Hippos have qualified for the final of the Under 20 Africa Cup of Nations after thrashing Tunisia 4-1 at Stade Cheikha Ould Boïdiya in Mauritania.
A hattrick from Derrick Kakooza coupled with a strike from Richard Basangwa sent Hippos to the final match of the tournament where they will face Ghana.
Basangwa gave Hippos the lead inside five minutes with a great finish on the turn. The Vipers SC forward was at the end of Gavin Kizito’s cross, turned his man (Aziz Guesmi), and shot a low drive to beat Elias Damergy.
In the 36th minute, Uganda Hippos were celebrating again. Basangwa broke on the left and set up Kakooza to double the lead with the easiest of tap-ins.
The Hippos, however, conceded from poor marking in the area barely two minutes later as Ben Lamin humoured in a rebound off Jack Komakech’s save at the near post.
At the stroke of halftime, Isma Mugulusi was denied by the woodwork following a ferocious effort from a long way out and Hippos took a slim 2-1 lead into the break.
The Tunisians threw everything at Hippos early in the second half with numerous raids but five minutes in, it was Uganda celebrating again. Bobosi Byaruhanga, in acres of space, picked out Kakooza with a long ball that he headed over Damergy who was caught in no man’s land for Uganda’s third goal.
Hippos slowed down the game with composed passing the rest of the half and defended in numbers giving the North Africans no clear-cut opportunities, with Semakula clearing off the line Tunisia’s only real opportunity of the second half.
With fifteen minutes to play, Kakooza was played through by Ivan Bogere who had replaced injured Najib Yiga and completed his hattrick to all but sealed the win for Hippos.
With the game put to bed, head coach Morley Byekwaso called for a double change as Steven Sserwadda who was on a yellow made way for Ivan Eyamu while Samuel Ssenyonjo replaced Basangwa.
In Saturday’s final, Uganda will face Ghana who edged Gambia 1-0 in the other semifinal.
Uganda Hippos XI: Jack Komakech (GK), Gavin Kizito (C), Musa Ramathan, Kenneth Semakula, Bobsi Byaruhanga, Isma Mugulusi, Steven Sserwadda, Richard Basangwa, Najib Yiga and Derrick Kakooza
Tunisia XI: lias Imed Danergy (GK), Adam Karim Benlamie, Mootez Zaddem, Zied Berrima, Mohamed Aziz Guesmi, Abdallah Amri, Marc Martin Lamti, Chiheb Labidi, Mohamed Amine Ben Zghada, Hassan Ayari, Nabil Makni