Uganda U-17 women national team has finally delivered on their promise of winning the Council of South African football Association (COSAFA) U-17 women championship after defeating South Africa 2-1 at the St. Francois Stadium, Mauritius.
The tournament was the first ever edition of the U-17 tournament under the COSAFA umbrella in the women category.
Uganda who were guests at the tournament, become just the second guest team to win a COSAFA title, after fellow East African nation Tanzania won the U-20 women championship in August.
Uganda had earlier underlined what their ambition at the COSAFA was even before they left the country, with Captain Juliet Nalukenge stating that they were going to fight for nothing but overall victory.
Head coach Ayub Khalifah also emphasized his side’s ambition after the side sealed their place in the final, even as they had region giants South Africa as their opponents.
However, Uganda did not have it any easy, despite shading numerous chances as South Africa pushed them till the very end.
Fauzia Najjemba opened the scoring for the guest nation in the 57th minute. Receiving a through ball from skipper Nalukenge, she capitalized on some hesitant defending from South Africa, to slot home past goalkeeper Karabo Mohale for her 13th goal of the tournament.
South Africa didn’t lose hope after conceding, and their resilience paid off 15 minutes later, through second half substitute Tiffany Kortjie’s header after some persistent play down the flanks by Nabeelah Galant, to set up a tense end to the game.
With five minutes of the game to play, the skipper came to the fore for her team once again. This time round roles were exchanged with Najjemba turning provider for her captain to head home what turned out to be the winning goal.
The goal ensured Nalukenge finished top of the scoring chats with eighteen goals, and kept her record of scoring in every game of the tournament intact. Though she was voted player of the match, she was surprisingly overlooked for the Most valuable player of the tournament which went to South Africa’s Jesica Wade.
Zambia picked up the bronze medal after defeating Botswana with a comprehensive 3-0 victory in the third place play-off match.
Overall, it was a magnificent tournament in which 158 goals were scored in only 16 matches.
COASFA U-17 WOMEN CHAMPIONSHIPS AWARDS
Runners-up: South Africa
Bronze medalists: Zambia
Most Valuable player: Jesica Wade (South Africa)
Top Scorer: Juliet Nalukenge
Golden Glove: Daphine Nyayenga
Fair Play Award: Botswana