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Olympic Games Qualifier: Rwanda recorded a pulsating 3-3 draw with Uganda

It was goal galore at Kigali Pele Stadium as Rwanda recorded a pulsating 3-3 draw with Uganda during Wednesday’s first leg of the 2024 Paris 2024 Olympic Games qualifiers.

Rwanda, who played the first leg as visitors, had to twice come back from behind with substitute Usanase Zawadi scoring a brilliant late goal to force a draw in the East African derby and keep her team’s Paris 2024 qualification hopes alive ahead of the second leg on July 18.

Both teams started the game brightly with the Crested Cranes calming their nerves as the Rwandan ladies tried to move on at a faster pace.

 

Olympic Games Qualifier: Rwanda recorded a pulsating 3-3 draw with Uganda
Olympic Games Qualifier: Rwanda recorded a pulsating 3-3 draw with Uganda

Dorothe Mukeshimana, who was operating in the Rwandan offensive midfield role, was a delight to watch with her sweet passes early in the first half posing a major threat to the Ugandan defense.

The first clear cut chance of the game fell to Ugandan striker Najemba Fauzia in the seventh minute who beautifully beat her marker but, with goalkeeper Angeline Ndakimana at her mercy, she blasted the ball off target to the relief of the Rwandan fans.

Uganda took control of the game with a series of decent passes in the Rwandan half but they failed to find the cutting edge at the final third of the field.

The home side had a free kick at the edge of the Rwandan penalty box in the 17th minute following a foul on Nasuna Hafisah but they didn’t utilize the chance to get the lead in front of their traveling fans.

Grace Nyinawumuntu’s side could have broken the deadlock in the 22nd minute but Florence Imanizabayo was slow to react after goalkeeper Aturo Ruth struggled with a harmless free kick from Andersene Uwase.

Rwanda were dealt a major blow as Louise Maniraguha had to be replaced by Joselyne Mukantaganira after just 26 minutes of the game s she hobbled off through injury.

Providence Mukahirwa powered home a spectacular drive inside the penalty box to put the visitors ahead in the 32nd minute after Uganda had failed to deal with a corner kick.

 

Olympic Games Qualifier: Rwanda recorded a pulsating 3-3 draw with Uganda

With just a minute to the half time, Shakira Nyinagahirwa restored parity for the Crested Cranes with a superb long range strike which goalkeeper Ndakimana had no chance to save it despite her impressive performance in the first half.

The second half saw Uganda piling pressure on Rwanda as they used their wings to great effect.

Uganda’s dominance yielded dividends in the 58th minute as they scored the second goal. Najemba Fauzia raced into the penalty box of Rwanda and she was hacked down by goalkeeper Ndakimana only for the referee to award the Ugandans a penalty which playmaker Nasuna Hafisah converted beautifully to give her side a 2-1 lead.

Rwanda started to get their acts together as they closed all spaces and tried to dominate ball possession.

Skipper Sifa Gloria Nibagwire was brought down in midfield and Liberée Nibagwire stepped up to fire home a superb free kick from 25 yards to level the scores 2-2 in the 63rd minute.

The goal sent the Rwandan fans at Kigali Pele Stadium into a frenzy mood as they cheered their ladies up.

It was an end-to-end action as Uganda nearly scored a third goal through Najemba Fauzia but goalkeeper Ndakimana pulled an outstanding save which earned her applause from the supporters.

The Rwandan shot stopper became Uganda’s menace as they were hunting for a winning goal as she pulled a series of spectacular saves before she was stretched off in the 82nd minute after colliding with an opponent only to be replaced by Diane Uwamahoro.

Uwamahoro, however, could hardly walk in Ndakimana’s shoes to the relief of the Crested Cranes who eventually took advantage of her howler, after just two minutes between the post, to regain the lead in the 84th minute through Ikwaput Fazila.

 

Olympic Games Qualifier: Rwanda recorded a pulsating 3-3 draw with Uganda

Resilient Rwanda pushed more players upfront and luckily got the equalizer in the 86th minute through a fabulous strike from substitute Usanase Zawadi. Both teams held on and defended gallantly as the game ended 3-3.

The pair lock horns again on July 18, same venue (Kigali Pelé Stadium) in a second leg clash that will decide who will face Cameroon in the next round of the Paris 2024 Games qualifiers.

 

Olympic Games Qualifier: Rwanda recorded a pulsating 3-3 draw with Uganda

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