Costly errors saw Uganda Cranes go down 3-1 to Morocco in their last African Nations Championship match and crash out of the tournament in spectacular fashion.
Uganda needed only draw the game to make sure of their quarter-final place, and eliminate Morocco in the process, but continue their poor string of results against Nort African opposition.
They finished third in the group behind Morocco and Zimbabwe, who now advance to the last eight.
Morocco’s goals came from Abdessad Rafik, Lajour Mouhssine and Abdelkbir El Ouadi.
The first two were as a result of defensive errors. The opening goal saw the back four out of position as Midfielder Fatah Said curved in a delightful cross that Rafik slotted well past Uganda’s goalkeeper Benjamin Ochan.
Coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic’s team resorted to tight defending as the Moroccans dominated play.
After the interval Micho replaced Julius Ntambi for off colour Nicholas Wadada and the substitution paid dividends as the Cranes started to attack in numbers. Junior Yunus Sentamu equalized for the Cranes in the 60th minute after finishing off a well chipped Vincent Kayizzi cross.
The Cranes mounted lots of pressure, but where again caught off guard in defense as Julius Ntambi failed to clear the ball and substitute Iajour Mouhssine made it 2-1 for Morocco.
The Cranes tried to attack in numbers and were caught on the break only for El Quadi to score in an empty net after his first attempt had been parried back by Ugandan goalkeeper Ochan.
It was a bad ending for the Cranes who had hoped to make history and qualify for their first ever quarter final in a major CAF tournament. They failed to come out of the Group in the 2011 Edition held in Khartoum, Sudan.
Uganda Cranes Starting X1: Benjamin Ochan, Julius Ntambi, Isaac Muleme, Richard Kasagga, Savio Kabugo, Hassan Wasswa, Denis Iguma, Vincent Kayizzi, Ivan Ntege, Yunus Ssentamu