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Byekwaso happy with Hippos fighting spirit against ‘tough’ South Sudan

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Uganda U20 head coach Morley Byekwaso is contented with the discipline and fighting spirit of his Hippos team despite plating to a goalless draw against South Sudan in their opening game at the AFCON U20 Zonal Qualifiers (CECAFA U20 Championship).

The Hippos had to play a man down for over 55 minutes after defender Musa Ramathan was shown a red card for an off the ball incident in the 35th minute.

Byekwaso’s boys dealt with their numerical disadvantage but did not let that affect them as they held on for a draw at the Amri Abeid Memorial Stadium in Arusha Tanzania on Monday afternoon.

“The game has been so hard, the boys have fought up to the last minute,” Byekwaso told media in his post-match press conference.

“It has been a tricky match, when we got the red card, everything changed, we had to change a lot tactically to at least give ourselves a chance in the game” he added.

South Sudan had the better opportunities on the day, with Vipers SC defender Joseph Dhata putting up an exceptional performance. South Sudan’s best chance came in the 81st minute, but Dani Lual glanced his header from close range over the crossbar from Daniel Taban’s cross.

Meanwhile, midfielder Bobosi Byaruhanga twice came close from set-pieces for the Hippos but Justin Simon Pita pulled off exceptional saves to deny him.

For Byekwaso, walking away with a point given the circumstances of the game means a lot as they now turn their focus to the next game against Burkina Faso on Wednesday.

“We had to adjust to ensure that at least we don’t concede because that would have created a disadvantage for us,” he said.

“Because with the nature of the tournament, every point matters a lot in terms of who advances from the group.”

“We tried our best, the boys have played and we focus now on our next game which will be on Wednesday,” Byekwaso explained.

The Hippos carry their point to Wednesday’s game and a victory will surely advance their chances of progress to the next round.

Only two slots at the AFCON U20 finals are available for the CECAFA region, with the two finalists earning direct tickets to the tournament due in Mauritius in 2021.

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