CAF CONFEDERATION CUP
KCCA 3 (3) AS Kigali 1 (3)
(AS Kigali progress on away goals rule)
It was a bitter-sweet game for hattrick scorer Brian Aheebwa as he saw his side fail to brush aside Rwandan outfit AS Kigali at Kitende in the CAF Confederation Cup first round.
The KCCA forward came close to applying the gloss to his heroic display in the dying minutes – a goal that would have all but sealed victory for the hosts – but his effort lacked the required precision to hit the back of the net.
Aheebwa had got Mike Mutebi’s side off to a flying start with a first-minute strike to halve their two-goal pre-match deficit and inject a timely amount of confidence into a side that came into the game knowing all too well the task before them.
He then struck his brace nine minutes before the break to bring the tie back on level terms.
But the visitors returned from the break to pile more pressure on KCCA from the penalty spot. Here, at 3-2, AS Kigali were definitely going through.
Although Aheebwa levelled the scoreline late on to ensure a nail-biting conclusion, it still meant the visitors were advancing to the next round courtesy of the away goals rule.
And they did just that, holding on to make it through.
First leg no-show haunts KCCA
The tweeted reaction of KCCA moments after exiting the Confederation Cup – after playing only one match – summed up a disappointing continental campaign for Uganda’s record league champions.
“Not the result we wanted! We are out of CAFCC,” the club tweeted after Wednesday evening’s game.
And when the reality of their missed opportunity sinks in, the players, head coach, backroom staff and their legion of fans will wish to quickly forget this day.
But it will not be a memory easy to flush out, and questions will definitely linger: ‘What could have been?’
Perhaps if it was not for the coronavirus pandemic, things would have been different?
KCCA carried a 2-0 disadvantage into the second leg of this first round tie after failing to field enough players to face AS Kigali back in the Rwandan capital a fortnight ago. The depleted side, although they made the trip to Kigali, had many of their players down with COVID-19.
Africa’s football governing body CAF called off the game and effectively awarded Kigali a 2-0 win.
Confident of turning the contest around at St. Mary’s Stadium, Kitende – the home of KCCA home rivals Vipers SC – Mutebi would have been delighted to see his men mean business when they provided the swiftest of answers under the heat of the day.
Anukani was the provider of Aheebwa’s opener – and the two replicated their partnership just before half time to vault KCCA back into the contest.
But their work was quickly undone with a 49th-minute penalty conceded to plunge KCCA back to square one, needing two more goals – without reply – to progress.
They managed to do only half that work within the last ten minutes through Aheebwa again, but time was not their ally as they failed to complete the task – the away goals rule costing them.
It means Uganda is out of this season’s continental football after league holders Vipers exited the CAF Champions League in December last year.