Mugulusi, Dembe give Hippos a solid start

Uganda Hippos players celebrate Ismail Mugulusi's goal in their 2-1 victory over Central African Republic | Photo by CAF Media

AFCON U20: Mugulusi, Dembe give Hippos a solid start

Shafic Kiyaga 18:14 - 20.02.2023

Captain Isma Mugulusi and John Paul Dembe fired Uganda ahead before Boris Gbenou pulled a goal to make for a nervy finish.

The Uganda Hippos kickstarted their U20 Africa Cup of Nations campaign with a 2-1 victory over the Central African Republic at the Suez Canal Stadium in Ismalia.

Captain Isma Mugulusi and John Paul Dembe fired Uganda ahead before Boris Gbenou pulled a goal to make for a nervy finish.

Hippos coach, Jackson Mayanja started with a progressive team featuring midfielders Travis Mutyaba, Titus Ssematimba, Rogers Mugisha, and John Paul Dembe leading the attack.

The team's only player from the previous AFCON U20, Ismail Mugulusi, also started for Uganda.

The game was evenly poised at halftime, with both teams struggling to make a breakthrough.

However, Uganda had the ball in the back of the net early in the second half, only for Dembe's effort to be ruled out for offside. Uganda also had claims for a penalty after a high kick on Apollo Kagogwe inside the area.

Uganda continued to dominate in the second half, with Mugulusi scoring the first goal of the game in the two minutes after the restart from Mugisha’s glancing header at the near post.

Mugisha had a dominant all-round game and was later named man of the match. The Hippos also had chances to increase their lead, with Ssematimba hitting the upright.

CAR goalkeeper Mauril Abimala had a moment of madness when he brought down Dembe outside the penalty area, but was lucky to escape with just a yellow card.

The Hippos eventually found the second goal they were looking for, with Dembe curling his effort into the far corner after beating his marker.

However, CAR pulled one back deep into stoppage time through Gbenou Boris, denying Uganda a perfect evening.

The Hippos will take confidence from their opening victory and look to build on their performance in their next game against Congo Brazzaville in group B.

With their industrious midfield and attacking options, Uganda will be hoping to go all the way in this year's U20 Africa Cup of Nations.

How they lined up:
Uganda U20: Abdu Magada (GK), Rogers Torach, Haruna Lukwago, Apollo Kagogwe, Ibrahim Juma, Ivan Irinimbabazi, Travis Mutyaba, Isma Mugulusi (C), Titus Ssematimba, Rogers Mugisha, John Paul Dembe

CAR U20: Mauril Abimala (GK), Veillance Gbamodo, Leonce Namgbema, Toure Mamfeina, Boris Gebnou, Moustapha Djimet, Fanuel Koyakogue, Rufus Betto, Cristin Abi De, Angelo Galabzi, Alban Goyema