Uganda’s coach Morley Byekwaso warned that the team can become the Total Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), Mauritania 2021 surprise package after hiking every step to progress to the semi-finals.
The CECAFA region champions will take on North African side Tunisia in the second semi final tie at the Olympic Stadium in Nouakchott on Monday, looking to continue their dream run in the tournament.
They come up against a Tunisia side, eagerly plotting success of their own and a dream run in the tournament as well after dismissing Morocco on penalties in the quarters in Nouadhibou.
A tie between the two will be a battle of wit and mental strength with the Tunisians equally showing they could deal with tough games after their victory over Morocco.
Uganda’s movement and passing style of play has proved to work in all their matches and they will come up against an uncharacteristically physical and hard working Tunisian team.
Road to the semis:
The Ugandan Hippos booked a placed in the last four after a 5-3 post-match penalties win over a tough Burkina Faso side at the Stade Cheikha Ould Bodiya, in a game that Byekwaso admitted they had to dig deep to progress.
Before that, they had won two games in the group stages, beating Mozambique and hosts Mauritania while their only loss in the competition so far was against Cameroon, a slim 1-0 margin.
They have netted four goals in open play and conceded twice in four matches while keeping two clean sheets.
The North Africans went through from the group stages as one of the two best placed third spot finishers having lost their last group match against the Central Africa Republic. They had won one match in the group phase, a 2-0 win over Namibia.
They played Morocco in a highly charged North African derby in the quarter finals and emerged victorious via spot kicks.
In four matches, they have scored three goals and conceded two.
Players to watch:
Uganda’s strength so far in the tournament has been a crisp midfield and the most consistent name in the team sheet has been Bobosi Byaruhanga. The 18-year old Vipers SC midfielder has been immense for the East Africans especially with his ball distribution skills.
In defense Musa Ramadhan has been a stalwart, shielding his goalkeeper with ease and in Uganda’s build up from the back has been key in distributing the balls upfield.
Hassan Ayari has been influential for the Tunisians moving forward. The Sheffield Wednesday midfielder’s prowess on set pieces has proved troublesome to teams and he will be heavily relied upon to unlock a tough Ugandan defense.
Another Tunisian player who will be key for them against the Ugandans is Chiheb Labidi and his leadership in the middle of the park will be immense of Tunisia are going to make a first ever appearance in the final.