KAMPALA, Uganda, Dec 7 – Hosts Uganda saw off a nervous second half before beating Burundi 2-1 in their opening Group A match of the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup at the Lugogo Stadium in Kampala on Saturday evening.
Fahad Bayo and Bright Anukani got the goals for the Cranes while Cedric Rurasenga scored the consolation for the Burundians.
With the victory, Uganda move top of the group with maximum points and will face Djibouti in their second match on Monday while Burundi will face Somalia.
The cranes were in total dominance of the opening half and were a beauty to watch. Within the opening 25 minutes, they were already 2-0 up and looked so comfortable in front of their adoring home fans.
They broke the deadlock in the 10th minute, Anukani hitting the back of the net with a brilliant low shot from 20 yards out after a poorly defended ball landed kindly on him.
Burundi’s day went from bad to worse when they had to change their centre back pairing after Muryano Musa picked up an I jury and was replaced by Issa Hakizimana.
Uganda continued their dominance in the match and were 2-0 up in the 24th minute with Anukani on e again playing a key role.
The midfielder put Bayo through on goal with a brilliant through pass and the burly forward did the rest by slipping the ball under Burundi keeper Fabien Mutombora’s arms.
On the half hour mark, the impressive Anukani had a chance for his second of the day but could not keep his header down unmarked off a Mustafa Kiiza corner.
On the other end, a tad of complacency saw Shafik Kagimu lose the ball in a dangerous area but luckily for him, Abedi Bigirimana failed to punch him by taking a rushed shot that went wide when he had acres of space in front of him.
Anukani continued to terrorize the Burundi backline and he created two more chances that should have wrapped up the game. Another brilliant pass between the defenders landed on Paul Willa, but his shot from the right went wide.
A minute to the break Anukani clipped over a pass destined for Bayo, but the striker’s looping g header went just over.
Three minutes into the second half, Uganda should have been safely 3-0 up, but Bayo’s effort from the right hit the crossbar with the Burundi defense caught napping.
Burundi kept the fight on and they halved the deficit on the hour mark from the penalty spot, Cedric Rurasenga sending the keeper the wrong way after Revita John had handled the ball inside the box.
The goal gave Burundi hope and they should thank their lucky stars for Uganda’s glaring misses just five minutes later.
Okello who had been exciting in the middle of the pack dribbled into space inside the box, but his low shot came off the bar. The rebound fell kindly on Viane Sekajugo with a gaping g goalmouth, but the winger shot over.
Having dodged a bullet, Burundi piled the pressure, but could not get the best quality ball in the attacking third.
They almost snatched a draw at the death, but Chancel Ndaye’s well delivered freekick rolled across the face of goal with no one to touch it into an empty net.