RWANDA'S hopes of qualifying to next year's Championship of African Nations (Chan) suffered a blow yesterday after Amavubi (Wasps) lost 1-0 to the Walya Antelopes of Ethiopia at the Addis Ababa stadium.
The Wasps now face the unenviable task of beating Ethiopia by not less than two clear goals in Kigali in two weeks to qualify for the tournament in South Africa.
The visitors had a torrid time containing the Ethiopians despite missing vital chances. Ethiopia scored the lone goal on the 57th minute when Asrat Megersa capitalised on poor defending to convert Asefa Behailus cross past goalkeeper Jean Claude Ndoli, who had not kept his guard well in the stands.
Both sides had a boring first half as Amavubi pressed balls comfortably but had no desire to find the net. Dawit Fekad and Alula Girma were industrious in the Ethiopian midfield.
Amavubi's first clear opening came in the 55th minute when Michel Ndahinduka fumbled with the ball long enough for Ethiopian defenders to clear the danger from the 18-yard box.
Ndahinduka should have scored after a Jimmy Mbaraga pass found him lurking unmarked in the goal area.
Meddie Kagere wasted another chance in the 60th minute, this time placing his shot wide with the Ethiopian custodian helplessly looking on.
Ethiopia enjoyed possession in the midfield with their tiki-taka style of play that left defenders Faustin Usengimana and Emery Bayisenge having a busy afternoon with dangerous dribbles from Girma, Behailus and Megersa taking course.
Defender Jemal Tasew had Jean Baptista Mugiraneza's effort saved as Amavubi searched for an equaliser. Ndoli blocked two clear strikes from Minyahil Teshome and Megersa as Ethiopians overran Amavubi defense.
The result gives Ethiopia an advantage as Amavubi set sights on the second leg in two weeks time at Amahoro stadium.
A 2-0 win in the second leg would see Rwanda making her second appearance at the continental championship finals.
Defending champions ousted:
Elsewhere, African Nations Championship (Chan) holders Tunisia were eliminated by Morocco in the first qualifying round over the weekend.
They drew 0-0 with Morocco in Tangier in the second leg, but fell 1-0 on aggregate after losing at home last Saturday. A last-minute goal from striker Abdessamad Mbarki in Sousse in the first leg proved decisive.
Morocco qualify for the tournament in South Africa in 2014 - their first ever.
Tunisia won the second edition of the tournament for home-based footballers with a 3-0 drubbing of Angola in Sudan two years ago. Only goalkeeper Farouk Ben Mustapha remained from that title-winning squad to confront the Moroccans.
In other results, Uganda secured a useful 1-nil away win against Tanzania in the first leg of their East African derby on Saturday.
The 16-nation tournament is scheduled for January 11-February 1 in South Africa.
South Africa qualify automatically as hosts and Ghana and Libya have secured places after opponents Benin and Algeria withdrew.
First leg results
Ethiopia 1-0 Rwanda
Tanzania 0-1 Uganda
Second leg result
Tunisia 0-0 Morocco [0-1 agg]