Reigning African champions Ivory Coast thrashed Uganda Cranes 3-0 in an international friendly game at the New York University Ground in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday as both sides prepared for Afcon 2017.
Uganda kept the Elephants at bay in the first half with a commanding presence from first choice goalkeeper Denis Onyango but the tables turned in the second half when Robert Odongkara replaced him.
Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha as well as Serge Aurier were the subject of Cranes Achilles’ heel from the onset but left back Joseph Ochaya had managed to contain them in the first half.
However, five minutes into the second period, Aston Villa’s Jonathan Kodjia got to the end of an Aurier pass to find the back of the net past Odongkara, who was left exposed by his defence.
Zaha, who had been at it all afternoon, made a brilliant run from the right wing to send a powerful shot into the net to double the Elephants’ lead and register his first goal for Ivory Coast.
Uganda coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic had introduced Moses Oloya for Farouk Miya while Michel Dussuyer took off Adama Traore for Simon Deli.
Three more changes for Micho’s men as he brought on youngster Muhammad Shaban, Isaac Isinde and Nicholas Wadada for captain Geoffrey Massa, Timothy Awany and Dennis Iguma respectively.
Wilfried Bony was also added to the mix for Kodjia while Nicolas Pepe came on for Salomon Kalou as Dussuyer sought to wrap up the game.
Indeed in the 72nd minute, an unmarked Aurier got to the end of a well-taken Max-Alain Gradel corner kick to extend his side’s lead and register an emphatic and well-deserved victory for the Elephants.
This is Uganda’s heaviest defeat since they lost 3-1 to Congo in the Afcon 2013 qualifiers in Pointe Noir.
The Cranes leave Dubai on Friday headed to Port Gentil via Addis Ababa ahead of their opener on January 17 against Ghana at Stade de Port Gentil.
Uganda will then take on Egypt on January 21 at the same venue before facing Mali in their last Group D tie on January 25 at Stade d’Oyem.
Uganda XI: Denis Onyango, Dennis Iguma, Timothy Awany, Hassan Wasswa, Joseph Ochaya, Tonny Mawejje, Geoffrey Kizito, Michael Azira, William Luwagga Kizito, Farouk Miya, Geoffrey Massa
Substitutes: Robert Odongkara, Salim Omar Magoola, Nicholas Wadada, Moses Oloya, Godfrey Walusimbi, Isaac Isinde, Murushid Juuko, Khalid Aucho, Shafik Batambuze, Muhammad Shaban, Yunus Ssentamu, Geoffrey Sserunkuma
Ivory Coast XI: Sylvain Gbohouo, Serge Aurier, Eric Bailly, Wilfried Kanon, Adama Traore, Franck Kessie, Geoffroy Serey Die, Jean-Michael Seri, Salomon Kalou, Jonathan Kodjia, Wilfried Zaha
Substitutes: Mande Sayouba, Mamadou Bagayoko, Victorien Angban, Cheick Doukoure, Yao Serge N’Guessan, Wilfried Bony, Max-Alain Gradel, Nicolas Pepe, Giovanni Sio