The Cranes of Uganda qualified for the finals of the 2015 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup on Thursday after defeating host Ethiopia 5-3 on penalties.
The trilling encounter, which was witnessed by over 40,000 fans who packed the National Stadium in Addis Ababa, ended goalless after 90 minutes and extra time.
The Cranes, who were considered pre-tournament favorites, scored all their penalties. However, Ethiopian players missed several chances, giving Uganda the chance to make a record 17th Cecafa final.
“The penalties could go either way. If it [the game] ends like this [on penalties], it is not good to celebrate. It’s a very tough match. It’s hard to play an opponent with six players not crossing the half,” Uganda’s coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic said.
Ethiopia’s coach Yohannes Sahle said he was proud of his players. He also thanked the public for coming out to support the team.
“It was a very good game. Both teams played beautiful soccer. We would like to thank the public for coming out to support the team. We would also like to give credit to the players. We are happy with the team,” Sahle said
13-time Cecafa winner Uganda will now face Rwanda in the finals of the regional competition scheduled to be played in Addis Ababa.
Rwanda booked a spot in the finals on Thursday via penalties after the match against Sudan ended in a one-all draw. The game remained goalless until extra time. In the 97th minute Sudan took the lead. However, the lead was short lived as Rwanda equalized in the 110th minute with a goal from Jean-Baptiste Mugiraneza.
Rwanda’s Amavubi Stars defeated the Falcons of Sudan 4-2 on penalties to earn their spot in the finals.
Uganda’s coach has said his team will keep cool heads and prepare for the match against Rwanda.
“We shall prepare for the final against Rwanda. We shall keep it cool. We will not over celebrate,” Micho said.
Rwanda will also be prepared as they search for their second ever Cecafa title after only winning it in 1999.
Photo: Echwalu Photography