Rwanda's Amavubi Stars booked their place in the last eight of the 2012 Cecafa Tusker Senior Challenge Cup after beating Eritrea 2-0 in the last Group C match played yesterday at Lugogo Cricket Oval, Kampala.
Dady Birori scored the opening goal after 15 minutes before Tumaine 'Titi' Ntamuhanga sealed the win with the second in the 76th minute. Malawi beat Zanzibar 2-0 in the other group match played simultaneously at Wankulukuku Stadium.
It was a well deserved for Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic's team, but one they had to real fight for against an Eritrean side that looked so organised at the back.
The loss eliminated the Red Sea boys, while Rwanda qualifies as group leader ahead of Malawi courtesy of a better goal difference, and Zanzibar as the best losers.
Amavubi's reward for a place in the quarterfinals is a meeting with Tanzania Mainland, who finished second in group A, behind hosts Uganda, will face Ethiopia, who qualified as second best losers in group A.
Micho set out a relatively changed team and striker Bernabas Mubumbyi, who started on the attack alongside Birori forced Eritrea keeper into the first of the match after just seven minutes and an unmarked Jean Baptiste Mugiraneza head just wide the resulting corner kick.
But it was long before Birori, who was making his first start in the tournament headed home Jean Claude Iranzi's well-taken free kick for his second goal of the tournament, having also scored in the 2-1 loss against Zanzibar as a second half substitute.
Iranzi and Amavubi continued to dominate possession and created several scoring opportunities but a combination of poor finishing and good defending by the Eritrean defenders, meant the team went into half time leading by just a single goal.
Micho sent on the more direct and powerful Jimmy Mbaraga for Mubunbyi and he and Birori terrorized Eritrea's defence but without finding the back of the net.
The impressive Birori set up Charles Tibingana but the winger fluffed his weak shot just wide when well-placed inside the box.
Amavubi had a penalty shout turned by the referee after Mbaraga was brought down on the edge of the box and the ref awarded a free-kick, which Haruna Niyonzima hit direct onto the wall.
But minutes later, Ntamuhanga, who has had a fantastic tournament so far, laced on a through ball from close the halfway line to extend the lead and also confirmed that Rwanda goes through as group leaders and avoid meeting the host in the last eight.
Kenya through to quarters
Kenya's Harambee Stars on Friday afternoon qualified for the quarter final after a 3-1 win over Africa Cup of Nations' bound Ethiopia in their final Group A.
Kenya's goals were scored by Rama Salim, Clifton Miheso and David Ochieng in that order. The win ensures Kenya finished their preliminary matches on six points with two wins and a loss that came on the first day against Uganda Cranes.
Rwanda: Jean Claude Ndoli, Emery Bayisenge, Hamdan Bariyanga, Ismail Nshutiyamagara. Dady Birori, Jean Baptista Mugiraneza, Haruna Niyonzima, Jimmy Mbaraga, Jean Claude Iranzi, Jean d'Amour Uwimana and Tumaine Ntamuhanga.
Eritrea: Fitsum Kelati, Yohannes Nega, Essey Kiflom, Yuhannes Tilahun, Merhawi Kesete, Hermon Tecleab, Medhanie Redie, Yosief Ghide, Ahmed Abdurahman, Tesfalem Tekle and Yonatan Solomon.
Cecafa Tusker Cup
Malawi 2-0 Zanzibar
Eritrea 0-2 Rwanda
Sudan 0-1 Burundi
Tanzania 7-0 Somalia
Burundi vs Zanzibar
Rwanda vs Tanzania
Kenya vs Malawi
Uganda vs Ethiopia