RWANDAN Primus league champions APR FC have a mountain to climb when they travel to Bujumbura in two weeks' time for their return match against Vital' O after losing to the Burundian champions 1-2 in the first leg on Saturday at Amahoro stadium.
It was the first home defeat in the CAF Champions League for the military side, who are appearing in the competition for the eleventh time. It was also Vital'O's first ever win over APR, and how important could it turn out to be.
Defender Leopold Nkurikiye scored the opening for the lively visitors on the 27th minute when he dribbled past full back Michel Rusheshangoga before beating goalkeeper Jean Luc Ndayishimiye with a low drive shot.
Striker Amiss Tambwe added the second on 64th minute after benefitting from a defensive error to make it 2-0, leaving the hosts with a whole lot to do.
Second half substitute Maxime Sekamana, who came in to replace defender Rusheshangoga, scored the consolation goal for APR on 67th minute, calmly tapping in Jean Claude Iranzi's cross to beat Justin Ndikumana in goal for the visitors.
APR's resorted to playing the long searching balls, which turned our to be their major undoing as they lost possession so cheaply against a well-organised Vital'O side managed by former Rayon Sport coach Gilbert 'Yaoundé' Kanyankole.
The first half which saw the military side display their worst performance this season as the visitors gave them little room to maneuver freely in-front of a space crown inside the Amahoro stadium where very few visiting foreign teams leave with anything.
APR's best chance of the game came on the 30th minute when defender Emery Bayisenge's free kick was cleared off the line by former Police FC defender Gilbert Kaze. Barnabe Mubumbyi also had a good opportunity to score with the score still 1-0, but instead fluffed his shot wide of the post.
Vital'O's Steve Nzigamasabo, Jean Marie Girukwishaka and Mbirizi ran circles around APR midfield players much to the frustration of the home fans and Eric Nshimiyimana, who is playing in the competition for the first time as coach, having done it as a player with the army side in the early 2000s.
APR now need to win in the second leg by a 2-goal margin to advance to the first round. Last year, they were eliminated by Tunisian side Etoile du Sahel in the first round.
Elsewhere, Kenyan Premier League champions Tusker FC, who APR beat in the preliminary round last year, posted one of the most resounding away results humbling hosts St. Michel of Seychelles with a 4-1 in Victoria.
Police promise good result against LLB
Police FC head coach Goran Kopunovic is confident his team will not be intimidated by the prospect of playing their first preliminary CAF Confederation Cup first leg match against Lydia Ludic Academic in Bujumbura, Burundi this afternoon.
The Serb said his side is focused on winning away from home, insisting that home ground advantage doesn't count much in today's football.
"Our plan is to get a good result in the first leg. This is the only way we can be sure of progressing further in the competition," Goran told Sunday Sport by phone from Bujumbura on Saturday.
The return match will be played on March 2 in Kigali with the winner making it to the first round of a competition that has remained elusive for teams from this region. The winner of the tie will play against DR Congo's DC Motema Pembe.