UGANDA beat bitter rivals Kenya 1-0 while Ethiopia edged South Sudan by the same margin during Saturday's opening day of the 2012 Cecafa Tusker Challenge Cup at Nelson Mandela National Stadium in Namboole, Kampala.
African Football Confederation [CAF] President Dr Issa Hayatou was chief guest during the Group 'A' encounters in which Kenya suffered a dent to their hopes of coming out of the pool as quarter finalists.
Uganda and Ethiopia, straight away became hot favourites to proceed and Kenya and debutants South Sudan threatened with early elimination.
Uganda 1 Kenya 0Geoffrey Kizito scored for Uganda in the 73rd minute to crown the Cranes' clear dominance during the entire match.
Harambee Stars poorly defended a free kick taken by Dennis Iguma from outside the box on the right flank. Kizito struck from close range past a helpless Duncan Ochieng'.
While Kenya ought to have equalised at the death when a long throw-in by Enoch Agwanda dropped on the goal line and was twice knocked by Kenyan legs but mysteriously did not cross, they were largely outplayed by the Cranes who were superior in ball control and movement.
Kenya had to make one forced change to the line-up announced hours to the match as striker Mike Baraza exited with sickness to be replaced by Ramadhan Salim.
After a quarter of an hour, all the running was being done by the Cranes and Brian Umony, Kizito, Moses Oloya and striker Emmanuel Okwi had the Harambee Stars furiously defending.
The Kenyan attack had no natural striker deployed and the diminutive Salim was at the front of converted midfielders picked to play the role. The support of Humphrey Mieno, Clifton Miheso and Anthony "Muki" Kimani completely lacked bite.
It had been a 6pm kick-off and when teams returned to the pitch after the first half, a power black-out hit a section of the stadium and it was 10 minutes before the lights went on again.
Uganda showed no slow-down effect after the interruption but Harambee Stars almost hit them with a good counter-attack move initiated by substitute Paul Were which almost resulted into a Kenyan lead.
But in diving at the feet to cut off the final ball, Cranes 'keeper Abbey Dhaira was badly injured. After writhing with pain on the pitch, he was replaced by Hamza Muwonge but still looked in deep distress during a doctor's attention on the touchline and was then rushed to hospital in an ambulance.
After Uganda's goal, Kevin Omondi split the Cranes' defence for a ball into the box for Mieno who should have had a better effort in connecting for a decent shot at goal.
Kenyans showed some cutting edge in the final 10 minutes but a relaxed Uganda defence effectively saw off the period.