The Uganda Cranes defeated arch-rivals Rwanda 3-0 in the first leg of the last phase in the 2018 Total Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifier on Saturday.
Playing at the St. Mary's stadium, Kitende for the first time and starting an era without Serbian-born coach Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic, the home side dominated play from kick off to the end.
KCCA FC's attacking midfielder Muzamir Mutyaba netted a first half brace before Derrick Nsibambi added the third in the second half.
After 14 minutes Burundian FIFA referee Pacifique Ndabihawenimana awarded a penalty after Nsibambi was brought down by defender Aimable Nsabimana. Midfielder Mutyaba made no mistake converting the penalty.
The Amavubi tried to fight back with skipper Djihad Bizimana holding well in the midfield, but the Ugandan defenders stood firm. It was after 33 minutes with some good inter passing Milton Karisa released Mutyba who made no mistake shooting past the Rwanda goalkeeper Marcel Nzarora.
After 39 minutes Aimable Nsabimana headed the ball off target for Rwanda. The hosts led 2-0 at the interval but had Savio Kabugo and Bernard Muwanga booked, while Rwanda also had Barnabe Mubumbyi in the referee's book for a rough tackle.
Uganda Cranes new coach Moses Basena brought in the fresh legs of Tom Masiko for Muwanga, but it was the Rwanda side that kicked off with lots of urgency looking to pull back a goal.
With goalkeeper to beat, Mutyaba should have made it 3-0 but he blasted wide after 48 minutes. After 51 minutes Karisa was the provider again for Nsibambi shot past the goalkeeper as the crowd went wild.
Rwanda's coach Antoine Hey made some changes, but to no avail as the Cranes continued to dominate the game. Mutyaba then paved way for Paul Mucureezi after 60 minutes before Muhammed Shaban also replaced a tired Moses Waiswa all for Uganda.
The Rwanda team continued to push forward and Bizimana 's hard shot with five minutes to time was punched out for a corner by Uganda's goalkeeper Ismeal Watenga.
"We are happy that we managed to get three goals in Kampala. But the battle is not yet won," said Uganda's coach Basena.
"We’re happy to have won our game here in Kitende, scoring 3-0 is not easy against a very strong team like the [Rwandans] - which team will never lie down for you. We’re happy that we won the game and we won it without conceding. It is only the first half of the leg [and] we still need to keep our concentration and not put our foot down in anticipation of a very tough challenge in Kigali."
His counter part from Rwanda Antoine Hey was furious saying that the referee did not handle the match well.
Uganda Cranes need any win or even a 2-0 loss to qualify for the 2018 CHAN event when they play the second leg on August 19 at the Kigali regional stadium, Nyamirambo.