Uganda Cranes Fall to Algeria

Despite Uganda Cranes hopes following Friday’s victory against Botswana, Uganda’s soccer enthusiasts faced disappointment as Algeria secured a 2-1 win against the Uganda Cranes in the fourth group match of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The Ugandan side aimed to overcome the Desert Foxes and claim the top spot in their group.

The atmosphere at Namboole Stadium shifted from jubilation to disappointment for the thousands who supported the Uganda Cranes against one of Africa’s football powerhouses. Despite an early lead, the Ugandan team saw their World Cup aspirations diminish as Algeria staged a comeback.

Uganda took an early lead in the 9th minute thanks to Travis Mutyaba’s goal. Capturing a defensive error by the Algerians, Mutyaba found the net from outside the box, beating Algerian goalkeeper Anthony Manderea.

This early advantage uplifted the Ugandan side, who continued to press forward, particularly through Rogers Mato’s contributions on the left flank. However, despite promising chances from forwards Steven Desse Mukwala and Rogers Kassim Mato, they entered halftime with a narrow 1-0 lead.

The match’s dynamics shifted dramatically at the start of the second half. Just a minute in, Houssem Aouar equalized for Algeria, quieting the previously lively stadium. Algeria then took the lead in the 58th minute with a goal from Saïd Benrahma of West Ham United, concluding a swift counter-attack after Kenneth Ssemakula lost possession outside the Algerian box.

“I’m not disappointed with the performance,” Coach Put stated during the post-match press conference. “However, football is straightforward. If you fail to convert chances, especially against a superior opponent, it becomes challenging. We gifted two goals at critical moments, making it very tough. Nevertheless, it’s a learning curve. Our squad is youthful; we need to mature and identify impactful players.”

The Belgian tactician also argued that his team outperformed Algeria statistically and didn’t deserve the defeat. He lamented the non-award of a penalty, emphasizing the need for game analysis with the players, noting that despite losing the battle, they hadn’t lost the war.

Algeria’s victory strengthened their position atop Group G with nine points, closely followed by Mozambique, also with nine points but a lower goal difference. Botswana, Guinea, and Uganda each accumulated six points, with Botswana currently in third place due to a superior goal difference, and Guinea ahead of Uganda based on head-to-head results.

Travis Mutyaba’s early goal wasn’t sufficient to rescue Uganda Cranes from defeat at home against Algeria’s Desert Foxes in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers match held at a packed Mandela National Stadium on Monday night.

In a tale of two halves, Mutyaba brought joy to over 40,000 fans within ten minutes, converting a driven shot after seizing a loose ball in Algeria’s half to beat goalkeeper Anthony Manderea at the far post.

The splendid goal ignited wild celebrations among the crowd, including dignitaries such as First Lady Janet Museveni, Sports Minister Hon. Peter Ogwang, MTN Uganda officials, FUFA President Eng. Moses Magogo, and musicians.

The hosts could have extended their lead, but Fahad Bayo narrowly missed from close range, while the Desert Foxes struck the base of the goal post from long range before Ismail Watenga saved the ensuing melee.

However, moments after the restart, Algeria seized control when Roma’s Houssem Aouar equalized from a tight angle, capitalizing on a defensive lapse by the Cranes.

With the match leveled, a section of fans, designated as the official cheerleaders of the Uganda Cranes from the MTN Fayaa campaign, continued to rally the crowds from the stands. Nevertheless, Algeria emerged victorious.

In the 58th minute, Lyon’s Said Benrahma capitalized on a series of unfortunate errors by Uganda Cranes to silence the crowd.

This defeat marks Uganda’s second loss in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, following an earlier defeat to Guinea away from home.

Uganda Cranes remain on six points, having previously secured victories against Somalia and Botswana. However, for Algeria, the victory propels their points tally to nine, signaling a resurgence after their previous home defeat against Guinea.

Under the current qualification format, the leading team from each of the nine groups will automatically qualify for the World Cup. Additionally, the four best runners-up will compete in an African playoff, with the winners advancing to the inter-confederation playoffs scheduled for March 2026.