Everything was left to be decided in the return-leg next week as visitors DR Congo and Rwanda shared a goalless draw in their first-leg clash on Wednesday at Umuganda Stadium.
The two neighbours were pitted against each other in the first round of the ongoing qualifiers for the 2019 Africa U23 Cup of Nations finals due in August next year, in Egypt.
Considering that Jimmy Mulisa's youthful side had less than a week together in camp and did not play a single friendly match, they played well but fell short when it came to breaking down their opponents' defence and finding the target.
The Amavubi Olympic team started the better side but not long before the Congolese side took control of the game in the first half.
APR forward Lague Byiringiro and his former club teammate Innocent Nshuti started upfront but the duo's impact was noticeably below par.
The visitors, through Jackson Muleka, had two clear chances to take the lead but his effort in the 37th minute, and two minutes later, went wide.
Rwanda made two significant attempts through skipper Dominique Savio Nshuti and Innocent Nshuti in the first half but none was able to put the hosts ahead.
In the 50th minute, DR Congo forward Muleka almost broke the deadlock but his would-be fabulous finish was cleared by Rayon Sports centre-back Ange Mustinzi.
Later in the game, Mulisa made three changes to reinforce his attack as Abeddy Biramahire came on for Innocent Nshuti, Patrick Mugisha for Byiringiro and Samuel Gueulette for Djabel Manishimwe, but the replacements didn't produce any notable threat against a well-composed Guy Busaka's side.
Following Wednesday's home draw, Rwanda will have an uphill task in the decisive clash when they take on DR Congo in Kinshasa next Wednesday.
The winner will face Morocco in the penultimate round in March 2019.
Rwanda 0-0 DR Congo
Mauritius 0-5 Kenya
Burundi 2-0 Tanzania
Ethiopia 4-0 Somalia
Uganda 1-0 South Sudan
Seychelles 1-1 Sudan