African Games 2023: Uganda Hippos see off Congo in spirited comeback to secure final spot

The Uganda Hippos Starting Xi that started against Congo on Tuesday, March 19, 2024, in the semi finals of the African Games 2023 in Accra, Ghana (photo/FUFA)

African Games football semi-finals
Uganda 4-2 Congo

The Uganda Hippos Tuesday staged a remarkable comeback to defeat Congo Republic 4-2 and secure their place in the final of the African Games for the first time in the tournament’s history.

The match started with an early setback for the Hippos as Congo took the lead in the 15th minute through Servyl Akouala’s well-placed free kick.

The situation worsened for Uganda when their goalkeeper, Shamulan Kamya, suffered an injury just four minutes later, prompting the need for an ambulance on the pitch.

In the 21st minute, Kamya was substituted by Abdu Magada, signalling the team’s willingness to fight back.

However, Congo extended their lead just before halftime when Mignon Koto found the back of the net in the 48th minute, leaving Uganda trailing 2-0.

The second half saw a dramatic turnaround as the Uganda Hippos mounted a stunning comeback.

Manager Morley Byekwaso’s tactical substitution proved crucial, with Hakim Mutebi replacing Ivan Irinimbabazi at the start of the second half, injecting new energy into the team.

The comeback began in the 60th minute when Abasi Kyeyune scored Uganda’s first goal, igniting hope among the players and fans alike.

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Ten minutes later, Bruno Bunyaga levelled the score with a well-taken goal, sending the stadium into a frenzy.

The momentum shifted in Uganda’s favour, and in the 73rd minute, Bunyaga struck again to complete his brace and give Uganda the lead for the first time in the match.

With just nine minutes remaining, Hakim Mutebi sealed the victory for the Hippos with Uganda’s fourth goal, securing their place in the final.

The Uganda Hippos’ historic victory highlights their resilience and fighting spirit, showcasing the depth of talent in Ugandan football.

Manager Morley Byekwaso’s tactical acumen and the players’ determination were instrumental in overcoming a two-goal deficit and booking their spot in the final.

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The Hippos will now await the winner between Ghana and Senegal in the final showdown on Friday, with hopes of clinching the ultimate prize.

For Morley Byekwaso, it marks yet another final appearance as the head coach of the U20 side, underscoring his expertise and leadership in developing young football talent in Uganda.

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