The women’s national football team, the Crested Cranes went down to a disappointing 3-2 loss against Ethiopia in the first leg of the preliminary round of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics qualifiers at the Addis Ababa Stadium.
The Crested Cranes, despite dominating play, found themselves down by three goals but rallied late on to score two stoppage time goals to improve their chances of qualification ahead of the second leg in Kampala.
Cranes head coach Faridah Bulega made a number of changes to her starting line up with Captain Tracy Jones Akiror and FUFA Women Elite League top scorer Hasifah Nassuna surprisingly named among the substitutes. Bulega was forced into a late change as Fazillah Ikwaput was replaced by Shamira Nalujja.
Bulega also opted to start with US based Yudayah Nakayenze in central midfield alongside Phobia Nabbumba despite being primarily a central defender. Aisha Namukisa and Shadia Nankya were maintained in defence.
Another US based player Sandra Nabweteme and Shamira Nalujja were patnered upfront with Kampala queens wide forwards Zaina Namuleme and Lilian Mutuuzo starting as the wide players. Goalkeeper Ruth Aturo took over the captains arm band.
However, the hosts went into an early lead after defender Namukisa put the ball into her own net before Loza Eeingerie Abera and Kidani Serkadis scored in the 76th and 79th minutes to as the Ethiopians raced into a 3-0 lead.
There was a chance for the Ugandan ladies to draw level at the stroke of half time but Sandra Nabweteme failed to convert from the penalty spot.
With the game in its dying moments, Kara Meskerem scored the second own goal of the game before Hasifa Nassuna who had come on earlier added a second to give Uganda a life line ahead of the second leg.
The two teams will meet in the second leg on Saturday in Kampala with the winner on aggregate qualifying to the next stage to play Cameroon.
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