The Uganda Hippos got their 2023 Under 20 AFCON campaign off to a winning start as they defeated Central African Republic 2-1.
Isma Mugulusi and John Paul Dembe were on target for Jackson Mayanja’s side while Boris Gbenou grabbed a late consolation for the Wild Beasts.
It was a mixed performance by the Hippos who at times looked out of sorts, in the first half, before stepping it up in the second. For head coach Jackson Mayanja, he was impressed by his charges.
“My lads played a good game even though the first game is not always easy at big tournaments like this. Mayanja said.
“It’s a big stage for the players and we won against a good team.”
Mayanja attributes the underwhelming first half performance to stage fright.
“Like I said, this is a big stage and most of these boys are playing at this level for the first time.
“We were a bit shaky in the first half but when the nerves settled, the boys were dominant and that speaks volumes about our performance in the second half.”
Following victory in the first game, the former Kyetume FC tactician anticipates his team will improve as the tournament goes on.
“The big stages are always difficult in the first match but as we go on we will get better. We have a lot to deliver.”
The Hippos witnessed several scintillating individual performances including from eventual man-of-the-match Rogers Mugisha. The UPDF FC midfielder insists their target is to seal a spot at the 2023 World Cup in Indonesia in May and June.
“We are here to try and win every game we play. Mugisha said.
“We want to win as many games and qualify for the world cup.”
The win on Monday elevated Uganda to joint-top in Group B. They return to action on Thursday against Congo who defeated South Sudan 2-1 in the other group B game.
The four sides that reach the semifinals of the 2023 Under 20 AFCON qualify for the World Cup. In the previous edition in Mauritania, two years ago, Uganda reached the final before losing to Ghana 2-0.