AMAVUBI Stars can not repeat last year's feat of reaching the final of the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup after losing to Tanzania Mainland 2-0 in the quarterfinal played yesterday at Lugogo ground in Kampala.
A goal in either half by Amuri Kiemba (in 33rd minute) and John 'Adebayor' Bocco (in 54th minute) condemned Rwanda to an early exit from a tournament that they have not won since 1998 despite coming so close on a couple of occasions.
As expected, both teams started the game cautiously, marking each other like super heavyweight fighters in the opening half until the Amavubi defence went to sleep in the build-up to Tanzania's first goal.
Michel Rusheshangoga allowed Mwinyi Kazimoto on the right, to set up his unmarked Yanga African team mate Kiemba, who tapped in from close range.
Kilimanjaro Stars most dangerous player Mwisho Kharifan Ngasa, who was subdued for most of the game, almost added a second goal moments later but his shot went agonisingly wide.
Amavubi best chance of the opening 45 minutes fell to Ismail Nshutiyamagara (Kodo) but the defender directed his tame shot off Jean Claude Iranzi corner wide.
As the half drew to a close, desperation started kicking in and captain Haruna Niyonzima was lucky to escape a straight red for lashing out to Ngasa in an off-the-ball incident.
Milutin 'Micho' Sredojovic's team started the second half the better team, but without creating much in-front of Juma Kaseija's well-protected goal, which forced Amavubi striker to try their luck from a distance.
But as Amavubi appeared to exert some sort of pressure, Jean Claude Ndoli 'gifted' Bocco the easiest of chances after he failed to hold on to a harmless shot from Raymond Demayo and the striker tapped in the rebound.
Micho changed things as his team now started chasing the game, bringing on Fabrice Twagizimana for the injured Kodo, Barnabas Mubumbyi for Charles Tibingana-and switched from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3.
Jimmy Mbaraga shot over the goal post outside the box and Imran Nshimiyimana, who came for Mbaraga saw his header come off the cross bar and Jean Baptiste Mugiraneza was booked for trying to do a 'Maradona' by scoring with his hand.
As the second half entered into dying minutes and Tanzania happy to sit back and defend their precious 2-0 lead, Haruna's influence on the game was visible as the Yanga midfielder created chance after another from the right flank but every time, there was either no one to connect with his excellent crosses or missed when well-placed.
Dady Birori, Mubumbyi and Imran all had a chance to either score or at least test Kaseija in the last 15 minutes but all failed.
Birori had a ball in back of the net but the goal was not allowed for infringement on the goalkeeper, though TV replays showed the striker headed the ball without touching the veteran Tanzanian keeper.
The defeat was the second for Amavubi in four matches in the tournament following the 2-1 loss against Zanzibar, who progressed to the last four after beating Burundi 6-5 on penalty kicks.
The second round of the quarter action resumes today at Namboole stadium when Kenya, runners-up Group 'A' face Malawi, runners-up Group 'C' and then Uganda [Group 'A' winners] face Ethiopia [second best third place team, Group 'A'].
Old enemies Uganda and Kenya can only meet if they go all the way to the final. The Cranes must navigate past Ethiopia before facing Tanzania Mainland in the semi-final on Thursday.
Harambee Stars, a resurgent team that has managed to go past the pool round unlike the previous year, must also first beat Malawi to play Zanzibar in the last four.
Cecafa Challenge Cup
Rwanda 0-2 Tanzania
Zanzibar 0-0 Burundi (pen 6-5)
Kenya vs Malawi 4pm
Uganda vs Ethiopia 6pm