The Ethiopian Women national side beat its Ugandan counterpart 3-2 in the 2020 Olympic Games African zone first round qualifier. Two late goals from the Crested Cranes narrowed the deficit ahead of the second leg.

Lucy, as the homers are nicknamed, started the duel on a bright note as they piled on the pressure on Uganda and created several scoring opportunities. Star striker Loza Abera spurred a one on one chance in the third minute before the cross bar denied her from scoring five minutes later from a free kick effort. Ethiopia grabbed the first goal in the 13th minute through Aisha Namukisa’s erroneous own goal. Namukisa under pressure from Abera struck to her own net to put the home side ahead.

The visitors saw little of the ball in the opening exchange; nonetheless they kept the Ethiopians at bay for the reminder of the interval. Abera was the culprit for failing to convert two opportunities as the visitors custodian Ruth Aturo pulled of two great saves to keep the score line unchanged. The Crested Cranes were given a lifeline at blink of the first interval when they won a penalty kick. Sandra Nabweteme’s spot kick could only find the post.

Following the resumption Uganda looked the much better side. In an eventful second half Lucy fight back to gain momentum and were successful in scoring twice in space of two minutes. Abera ultimately got her goal after a goalmouth scramble in the 76th minute. Serkaddis Guta extended the lead two minutes later when the Uganda defence caught napping leaving her and Senaf Wakuma totally unmarked.

The Crested Cranes never gave up in reducing the score as they pushed forward to get a goal whilst the homers looked a bit shaky at the back. A long range free kick was turned in by Tarikuwa Debiso for the game’s second own goal in the 88th minute. Uganda got a vital second away goal at the stoppage time through second half substitute Hasifah Nassuna whose curling strike from the right flank left Ethiopian goalie Abaynesh Ereqelo helpless.

The two nations will lock horns for the return leg on Saturday, 6th of April, in Kampala. The overall winner of the two legs will take on Cameroon in the second qualifying round.

Source: Confederation Africaine de Football (CAF)

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