Senegal’s individual talent was on show as they fought hard to beat a classy if naïve Uganda side. It ended 2-0 at the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations. The West Africans scored their first-ever goals and won their first-ever points at the WAFCON. Playmaker Ndeye Diakhate and Nguenar Ndiaye scored the goals. With the goals, they put Senegal on track to qualifying from the group stage. That will be for the first time in their history.
Senegal Teranga Lionesses grasp their chance
Group A is widely considered to be the tightest group at the WAFCON. There is a total of only four previous appearances between the four countries. Both Uganda and Senegal are making only their second appearance at the WAFCON. They will be confident of qualifying for the quarter-finals.
But it was Senegal who looked more confident in coming into the match. With close to 1,000 Moroccan-based Senegalese fans making a huge noise, it felt more like a home match for the West Africans.
Buoyed by the support, Serigné Cissé’s played a direct and physical brand of football that unsettled their opponents.
In particular, Ndiaye, playing as lone striker was a constant threat. Every time Senegal were in possession, her defenders looked to her as the sole outlet and her capacity to retain possession and win her ariel duels allowed for the team to progress up the pitch.
Unlike their men’s side, this Senegal team is not full of talent across the pitch, but instead their quality is found up front and they used that quality to devastating effect. Ndiaye was backed up by silky winger, Haby Balde on one side and 16 year old talent Hapsatou Diallo on the right wing.
It was Diallo who made the breakthrough when she won the penalty which Olympique Marseille playmaker Diakhate dispatched smoothly. While they lack the quality in the centre of the park to control possession, that front four will give even the staunchest defences a torrid time on this showing.
Naïve Uganda pay the price against Senegal
Uganda came into the tournament in the better form of the two nations and could have fancied themselves as slight favourites. The Crested Cranes won their first ever Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) title in May, lifting the trophy on home soil after winning all five of their matches.
They followed that up with a 5-0 thrashing of a strong Zambia side in a pre-tournament friendly. But their performance yesterday showed the gap that exists between the CECAFA regions and other regions in the continent.
The Ugandans won the midfield battle and saw most of the ball. Hasifah Nassuna and Nalugya Shamirah in particular showing their class in dictating the game. But the team was caught short at both ends of the pitch.
Their defence simply couldn’t handle Ndiaye’s physicality and the trickery of the Senegalese wingers. At the other end, Uganda created plenty of half-chances, but only on one or two occasions created anything clear cut.
George Lutalo will feel hard done by the result, and on another day, Uganda’s good football could have brought about a win. They hit the woodwork twice, once from a Fauzia Najjemba header, before an ambitious Phiona Nabbumba strike from distance clipped the crossbar.
The victory puts Senegal in pole position to qualify from the group and make it to the knockout stage for the first time. They face debutants Burkina Faso next and a win would seal qualification to the next round before they even have to play group favourites Morocco.
They will back themselves to beat a Burkina Faso side that were tame in defeat, but both Uganda and Senegal face their next fixtures with minimal turnaround. Both play tomorrow, giving them only one day of rest compared to Morocco and Burkina Faso’s two days of recovery.
That lack of rest compounds the struggles facing Uganda as they face hosts Morocco just over 48 hours after this loss. The CECAFA champions face an uphill task as realistically they need at least a draw against the home side if they want to progress from the group for the first time in their history.
Senegal – Sene (gk), Babou, Dembele, Sow, Ndiaye, Diakhate, Balde, S. Sagna (c), J. Sagna, Diallo, Camara
Substitutes: Ngom, Diouf, Diagne, Fall, Seck
Uganda – Aturo (gk, c), Asia, Komuntale, Nakayenze, Nantongo, Nambi, Bassuna, Kivumbi, Nabirye, Najjemba, Shamirah
Substitutes: Ikwaput, Nabbumba, Nabweteme