Cranes will hope to wind up their return to the high table of African football with a goal, and win, when they take on Mali today.
“We came here to play three Cup finals — the first we lost on a penalty to Ghana and the second we lost in the last minute on the counterattack. We will see how we play the last match but the ambition remains that we want to go home with pride and with a win.” said Uganda coach Milutin Sredojevic as he looked forward to third and final ‘final’.
Uganda, already eliminated after the Egypt defeat, will hope to bow out of their first Cup of Nations in 39 years by registering a first goal and a first win since their last appearance in 1978.
Uganda’s last goal was scored by legend Phillip Omondi as Uganda marched over Nigeria 2-1 in March 1978
Egypt defeat painful, lessons learnt
Uganda coach Milutin Sredojevic admitted the way in which his side were knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations with a last-gasp defeat to Egypt on Saturday was a crushing blow.
“We have come after 39 years and paid for the lesson in a hard way. If you lose in a convincing way you accept it, but in this way it is very hard to accept.
“We tried our best but unfortunately it was not enough,” said “Micho” after Abdallah El Said’s 89th-minute strike, from a Mohamed Salah assist, gave Egypt a 1-0 win in the Group D encounter in Port-Gentil.
“This level of competition demands total focus of concentration on details that decide games.
“We couldn’t keep that concentration up to the last moment — when we were supposed to close the game out we allowed a counterattack and the experience and quality of Salah made the difference
“Now we need to pick up the pieces and look forward in order to see who will play the last game — it is hard to say who will play in the last game, we have certain injuries like (goalkeeper Denis) Onyango.
— Uganda FA [FUFA] (@OfficialFUFA) January 24, 2017
Mali still in with a chance
In Oyem, Mali must beat Uganda and hope Egypt lose if they are to stay in the tournament, but to do that Alain Giresse’s side need to improve in front of goal having thus far failed to score.
Eliminated from the last Cup of Nations in 2015 in bizarre fashion after a drawing of lots with Guinea in a hotel meeting room in Equatorial Guinea’s capital Malabo, another such scenario is possible.
Mali and Egypt drew 0-0 with each other in their first game and so if they end up locked on the same points and same goal difference, such a last resort will be required to separate them.
Five facts for the Africa Cup of Nations Group D match between Mali and Uganda
— This will be the first competitive meeting between the Malian Eagles and the Ugandan Cranes.
— Little separates the teams on the FIFA rankings with Mali 13th in Africa and 64th in the world and Uganda 18th in Africa and 73rd in the world.
— Both countries experienced the heartbreak a long time ago of losing a Cup of Nations final.
— Mali conceded three second-half goals within seven minutes to lose 3-2 against Congo Brazzaville in the 1972 title decider in Yaounde.
— Uganda was ruled by notorious dictator Idi Amin when the national team fell 2-0 to hosts Ghana in the 1978 final in Accra.