In the first leg of the 2024 Paris Olympic Women’s Football Tournament Qualifiers, Uganda secured a crucial advantage by defeating Cameroon with a score of 2-0. The game, held at the FUFA Technical Centre in Njeru on Thursday, marked the debut of interim head coach Charles Ayiekho Lukula and included the introduction of defender Justine Najjuko and midfielder Zaitun Namaganda to the team.
Crested Cranes delivered a spirited performance, resulting in a 2-0 lead. Catherine Nagadya and Fazila Ikwaput were the heroes, each scoring a goal in different halves. The match garnered the attention of football enthusiasts, with FUFA President Hon. Magogo Moses Hassim and some of the FUFA EXCO Members in attendance.
Nagadya opened the scoring for Uganda in the 11th minute, capitalizing on a goalkeeping mistake by Cameroon’s Michaely Bihina. Bihina couldn’t handle Shamirah Nalugya’s powerful free-kick, spilling the ball into Nagadya’s path, and she made no mistake in finding the net.
Cameroon had an opportunity to level the score when, at the half-hour mark, they were awarded a penalty after defender Justine Najjuko handled the ball in the box. However, Cameroon’s captain, Ajara Njoya, couldn’t convert the penalty, as her attempt struck the base of the post and was off-target on the rebound.
Crested Cranes displayed resilience in the following minutes, maintaining a solid defense, and goalkeeper Vanessa Edith Karungi made crucial saves to keep the visitors at bay.
The start of the second half saw changes in the team, with Bridget Nabisaalu and Asia Nakibuuka replacing Najjuko and Namaganda, respectively. When Phiona Nabbumba suffered an injury, she was substituted by Jackline Adong, who was also making her debut.
In the 77th minute, Uganda extended their lead with Ikwaput scoring her second international goal. Fauzia Najjemba’s efforts on the left wing set up Ikwaput, who made no mistake on the second attempt after her initial shot was blocked.
Uganda now carries a 2-0 lead into the return leg, which is scheduled for the coming Tuesday in Yaounde, Cameroon. The winner of the tie between Uganda and Cameroon will go on to face the victor of the Nigeria vs. Ethiopia matchup.