Kampala- The last time it happened, Denis Onyango and Geoffrey Sserunkuma were in their budding 20s.
Then, the former shut gates at the back, and the latter opened ‘floodgates’ the other end as Uganda beat Cape Verde 1-0 in the 2006 World Cup qualification at Namboole. Twelve years on and it is even better, sweeter.
This time at Cape Verde’s own backyard, the imposing Onyango stopped a one-on-one situation in the first half, one of his several match saving interventions, and Sserunkuma stepped off the bench to score the winner on 83 minutes as Uganda won 1-0.
The Cranes had never, ever won their opening match away from home in a major qualification campaign of this magnitude, at this stage, and in this format.
Uganda of course did start with a 1-0 victory Kenya away in the 1962 Afcon qualification, but that was just a two-legged play-off, with the winner immediately qualifying for the finals. Certainly, it is just one game played with five to go, and no one should be carried away.
Yet no one can blame the Cranes if they said Cameroon 2019 was firmly within sight, unless a self-destruct button is pressed.
Tough, not intimidated.
Cape Verde are the top seeded team in this Group L that also includes Tanzania and Lesotho, who drew 1-1 a day earlier to ensure Uganda sit alone on top with three points.
Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic, midfielder Hassan Wasswa and Onyango, who was making his first match as full national team captain, had all admitted Cape Verde were Uganda’s biggest concern in the group.
They would have all welcomed a draw before the match. “They are a very quality team,” said Onyango. “It was important for us not to concede and we knew we would get our chance and we got it and scored.”
Micho said: “First half, Cape Verde was dominating, they had the wind. But we have not been intimated. We found our way through.”
This was a victory served by a man who had just replaced Emmanuel Okwi to direct Godfrey Walusimbi’s sweeping cross from the left past Cape Verde goalkeeper Josimar Dias Vozinha.
Since that goal in 2005, Sserunkuma has endured his ups and downs, enjoying some fruitful spells in South Africa, eating off the crumbs at the national team, having stints at the defunct SCVU and Lweza before Mike Mutebi gave him a new lease of life at KCCA.
He has since won a league title, top scoring with 21 goals en route. He has also netted four times on the continent and this latest one, tapped home with his right foot before his index fingers pointed to the heavens just emphasized what a great year the 33-year-old striker is having.
CRANES - CAPE VERDE LINEUPS
Cape Verde XI: Vozinha (G.K), Tiago Almeida, Carlitos, Vally, Gege, Marcos Soares (59’ Ryan Mendes), Jamiro (76’ Helder), Garry Rodrigues, Ponck, Ze Luis, Julio Tavares (59’ Heldon) Subs Not Used: Babanco, Kevin Oliveira Head coach: Lúcio Antunes
Uganda Cranes XI: Denis Onyango (GK) (C), Nicholas Wadada, Godfrey Walusimbi, Bernard Muwanga, Murushid Jjuuko, Hassan Wasswa Mawanda, Khalid Aucho, Faruku Miya, Emmanuel Arnold Okwi (78’ Geofrey Sserunkuma), Derrick Nsibambi (94’ Denis Timothy Awany) and Isaac Muleme (46’ Milton Karisa) Subs Not Used: Benjamin Ochan (GK), Isma Watenga (GK), Denis Okot, Robert Kaketo, Muhammad Shaban Head coach: Micho Sredejovic