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Nafian Alionzi: Onyango’s worthy successor,Uganda's hero against Senegal [Editor's opinion]

Uganda Cranes goalkeeper Nafian Alionzi heroics against Senegal rekindled the good old days of Denis Onyango between the sticks.

Nafian Alionzi celebrates

Lions of Teranga were domesticated by the Uganda Cranes in the Africa Nations Championships second group stage match at the 19th May 1956 Stadium, Annaba, Algeria with skipper Milton Karisa scoring the solitary goal of the game.

By beating Senegal, Uganda recorded its first win since the victory 2-1 over Burkina Faso at the 2014 edition in South Africa. The Cranes were winless at the 2016, 2018 and 2020 CHAN editions.

Alionzi had to be at his best to preserve Uganda’s slim lead and also kept the Cranes in the game.

Blessed with strong hands, courage before opponents and superb game reading skills, Alionzi became the great wall that Lions of Teranga could not overcome at the Annaba stadium.


It’s no wonder, the coach, ex-Cranes players and fans are full of praise for the star.

“Playing against Teranga Lions is the same as entering a den of lions. It has been an action thriller match with indirect kick and penalty kick. We could have been down. We kept surviving. I give credit to Alionzi and the players. The players deserve credit but Alionzi deserves more”, coach Milutin Sredojevic said.

Former captain Denis Onyango hailed the goalkeeping coaches for the great work.

Alionzi made several crucial saves to keep Cranes in the game. Senegal started the game strongly and the 21st minute, they produced the real chance for an opener. Lamine Karama’s freekick would hit the wall and the pressure kept on piling.


Then Senegal would win a penalty and Cheikh Sidibe stepped up to find the opener. Calm, cool and collected, Alionzi went in the right direction and saved the penalty.

Once again, Alionzi would emerge as the hero saving an indirect free kick from just five yards infront of goal Geoffrey Wasswa had a reckless pass to Alionzi piling pressure on the goalkeeper who was forced to touch the ball with his hand thus a yellow. In the free kick, he sprung forward and blocked the shot.

The Senegalese attack continued and Diouf would once again fail to beat Alionzi in a one-on-one situation.

Captain Milton Karisa would break the deadlock in the 33rd minute thanks to a superb assist from the Man of the Match Kenneth Semakula. Karisa inspired the team, several times falling back to help with the defending.


Uganda tops Group B four points while Senegal are second with three points. DR Congo who drew with Côte d’Ivoire earlier in the day sit second with two points from two games while the Local Elephants sit bottom of the table.


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