'It was a very good goal from Khama‚' says Onyango after conceding a goal to Billiat

Zimbabwe's midfielder Ovidy Karuru (L) passes the ball past Uganda's goalkeeper Denis Onyango (C) during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) football match between Uganda and Zimbabwe at the Cairo International Stadium on June 26 , 2019.
Zimbabwe's midfielder Ovidy Karuru (L) passes the ball past Uganda's goalkeeper Denis Onyango (C) during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) football match between Uganda and Zimbabwe at the Cairo International Stadium on June 26 , 2019.
Image: Khaled DESOUKI / AFP

Denis Onyango was more than pleased to have won the personal battle with former Mamelodi Sundowns teammate Khama Billiat at the Africa Cup of Nations on Wednesday night.

Kaizer Chiefs star Billiat scored the 41st-minute equaliser for Zimbabwe but the 1-1 draw saw Onyango's Uganda almost certainly progress to the last-16‚ giving the Cranes four points after their opening 2-0 win against Democratic Republic of Congo in Group A.

"Yes‚ definitely we won the battle‚ we won the fight.

"Because all we want is to get the points‚" Sundowns' big‚ genial‚ Onyango‚ Africa's local-based player of the year for 2016‚ grinned afterwards.

"It's not good to concede‚ but it was a very good goal from Khama. Much respect‚ because he's a top player."

Emmanuel Okwi had given Uganda a 12th-minute lead at a packed Cairo International Stadium‚ where the two teams in the 7pm opener of the double header had the bizarre experience of playing in front of a packed house‚ where the noise being generated was more in anticipation of Egypt's 2-0 win against DRC at 10pm.

Uganda were led to their first Nations Cup in 38 years at Gabon 2017 by current Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic.

They have now‚ under Frenchman Sébastien Desabre‚ reached the knockout stage for the first time since they were losing finalists to hosts Ghana in 1978‚ before their barren run of qualifications for the tournament began.

"All-in-all we want to go as far as we can. If we win against Egypt [on Saturday‚ at Cairo International] it will give us more confidence in the group." Onyango said.

"It will be fantastic for Ugandan football if we leave the group.

"But I'm happy with the boys. The fight is good and the spirit is growing higher and higher every game."

He said Uganda's spectacular revival at the Nations Cup is based on team unity.

"It's all working together as a team‚ and believing in each other‚ and not differentiating between the old dogs and the young guys‚" he said.

"We've got a few guys who are playing in Gabon‚ who bring in experience‚ and a few guys who play in Europe‚ and a few guys who are new in the tournament.

"So we help each other. They have the legs because they are young. We are older‚ we've got the experience.

"The experience in Gabon really helped us. We've got about 10 guys who were in that tournament. So it's all good for us."

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