In a nail-biting showdown, Uganda secured the 2023 Victoria Cup with a heart-stopping one-point victory over Kenya. The hosts clinched the coveted cup through a dramatic last-minute penalty kick executed by Liam Walker. The final score stood at 21-20 in favor of Uganda.
From the opening whistle, the match was a high-octane spectacle. Kenya quickly asserted their dominance by notching two tries in the first ten minutes. Teddy Akala’s sixth-minute effort was followed by Joel Inzuga’s ninth-minute score, showcasing a seamless counterattack.
Nevertheless, Uganda refused to yield, clawing back with two well-executed penalties by Ivan Magomu. Conrad Wanyama delivered Uganda’s first try just before the half-hour mark, establishing a slender 13-12 lead as they entered halftime.
The first half was marked by both teams struggling to maintain possession, with turnovers and handling errors disrupting their rhythm. Kenya attempted to reclaim their early advantage by introducing five fresh players at the start of the second half. However, lingering issues from the initial half and previous matches came back to haunt them. Conceding possession easily and struggling in their set pieces, the Kenyan side found themselves on the defensive.
Jone Kubu managed to slot a crucial penalty for Kenya, putting them ahead at 15-13 with twenty minutes remaining. Yet, their momentum slipped away as Paul Mutsami was shown a yellow card for an offside foul.
Uganda capitalized on their numerical advantage, with Joseph Oyet securing a try in the corner in the seventy-third minute. Just when it seemed Uganda had taken control, Joel Inzuga completed his brace with a powerful carry in the corner, pushing Kenya back in front at 20-18 with four minutes left on the clock.
Uganda’s hopes were hanging by a thread, with four missed penalties from Ivan Magomu and a Walker conversion haunting them. However, in the dying moments, Walker, in only his second cap for Uganda, made no mistake with a pressure-packed penalty kick from forty meters.
This heroic effort clinched not only the match but the 2023 Victoria Cup for Uganda. Overall, the match was marred by subpar performances from both sides, especially in the contact area, with a disproportionately high penalty count for a fixture between experienced test nations.
The officiating also came under scrutiny for affecting the flow of the game. The Man of the Match honor went to Eliphaz Emong, while Ivan Magomu scooped two awards, recognizing him as the overall top points scorer and the tournament MVP.
Both teams now turn their attention to the return leg of the 2023 Elgon Cup, scheduled for Saturday, November 11, in Kisumu, Kenya.