Uganda edges Botswana 1-0 in FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers

Uganda edges Botswana 1-0 in FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers
Uganda Cranes marked their return to Namboole Stadium with a thrilling 1-0 victory over Botswana in Group G of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers on Friday 7, June 2024.

Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | On Friday, host nation Uganda secured a 1-0 victory over Botswana in a Group G match of the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers.

The decisive moment came in the 74th minute when substitute Muhammad Shaban scored the only goal of the match, thrilling the fans at the newly refurbished Mandela National Stadium, Namboole.

KCCA FC striker Shaban made the most of a cross from Kitara FC’s substitute Denis Omedi, skillfully placing the ball beyond Botswana’s goalkeeper, Goitseone Phoko.

In the first half, Uganda’s strikers Fahad Bayo and Steven Mukwala had opportunities to score but failed to convert their chances. Botswana’s Vincent Sesiyi Thabang also missed a notable chance after the break.

Following Shaban’s goal, Uganda continued to apply pressure on Botswana, with Shaban, Rogers Mato, and Bobosi Byaruhanga leading the charge. Italian-based defender Elio Capradossi, making his debut for Uganda, delivered a standout performance with crucial interceptions and strong defensive play.

Cranes coach Paul Put made several bold selections, including awarding debuts to SC Villa’s talisman Ronald Ssekiganda, who replaced the injured skipper Khalid Aucho, as well as Elia Capradosi in the center-back and KCCA FC’s midfielder Joel Sserunjoji who came in as a substitute.

The Belgian tactician opted for an attack-minded lineup, featuring two attacking midfielders: Allan Okello on the right wing and Travis Mutyaba cutting from the center, with Steven Mukwala and Fahad Bayo leading the forward line.

However, despite the offensive setup, the Cranes were frustrated throughout the first half, struggling to break down Botswana’s defense despite the fervent support from the stands. This forced Coach Put to introduce Rogers Mato, who had been ruled out of the game due to late arrival, in place of Allan Okello at halftime.

“Our problem was that we were playing with a lot of players behind the ball and that was our problem in the first half, now we changed this, and we got balance,” Coach Paul Put explained to journalists after the game why his side struggled to create chances at half time.

As the game progressed, Put made further strategic changes, substituting Mukwala and Bwomono with Shaban Muhammad and Bobosi Byaruhanga. This tactical reshuffle saw SC Villa’s captain Kenneth Ssemakula, who started in partnership with his clubmate Ssekiganda in the middle, moved to right back, allowing Byaruhanga to inject creativity into the midfield.

Minutes later, Put also took off Mutyaba and replaced him with Denis Omedi a decision that perhaps determined the result of the match day.

“We wanted to go forward with some speed because that was missing in the first half, so we took Kenneth to the right back because we wanted someone more creative in the midfield, so we got Bobosi in the middle to get more creativity and more depth and I think we did very well,” Put explained.

“I am happy that the team played with a lot of confidence and scored to win the match. We need to keep improving so that we can take the scoring chances that we create as a team,” said a happy Uganda Cranes coach Paul Put after the match watched by over 30,000 fans.

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Botswana’s captain, Dithokwe Thatayaone, acknowledged the team’s effort but noted their setback. “We tried to play well and contain Uganda, but one defensive lapse cost us,” he said.

This victory moves Uganda to third place in Group G with six points, trailing Algeria and Benin, who also have six points but lead on goal difference. Uganda’s next match is set for June 10, where they will face the 2019 African champions, Algeria, at the same venue.

Commenting on their next fixture, Coach Put said that while he is aware that his team will be hosting one of the continent’s heavyweights, it will not stop them from playing their normal game.

“We know we are facing Algeria, so the quality of Algeria is known because they are one of the best teams in Africa. So our approach in the Monday game will be different, but I‘m not saying that we are going to defend, no, we are going to play, we are going to try and surprise Algeria,” Put told journalists during the post-match press conference.

According to the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers, the leading team from each of the nine groups after all group games will earn an automatic qualification for the World Cup. The four strongest runners-up will engage in an African playoff, with the winners progressing to the inter-confederation playoffs scheduled for March 2026.