KCCA FC start their CAF Champions League group-stage campaign on a losing note - against Botswana's Township Rollers.
CAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
Friday Group A results:
Township Rollers 1 KCCA 0
Al Ahly 0 Esperance 0
GABORONE - KCCA FC head coach Mike Mutebi watched restlessly on the sidelines as his side suffered defeat at the hands of Township Rollers of Botswana Friday night.
Following the final whistle, the visiting players stood on the Botswana National Stadium pitch wearing looks of exhaustion - and dejection.
In sharp contrast, the home players and their fans burst into celebrations across the stadium at the end of the game, relieved to have endured a nervy final minutes of the Group A opener.
Despite a late surge, which saw the likes of Derrick Nsibambi and Mustapha Kizza come close to levelling in the dying minutes, KCCA eventually had to settle for a gaze into the abyss, wondering what could have been.
But then, it is still early days.
The positive takeaway for Mutebi and co will be that they did not ship the volume of goals they looked ever so in danger of conceding, especially in the first half.
A horrid opening half saw the visiting backline run ragged by the industrious Joel Mogorosi and Lemponye Tshireletso, whose pace and power generated a wave of recurrent unease in front of Tom Ikara's goal.
The 21-year-old Ugandan was the busier of the two goalkeepers in the opening periods of a match played under floodlights in the 20,000-seater stadium.
In an end-to-end encounter, Julius Poloto's 20th-minute teasing cross in the area eluded everyone but defender Ivan Ntege, with the Ugandan, facing his compatriots, clearing the ball off the line just in time.
Ntege, who joined The Blues in July last year, proved business as the hosts heaped pressure after pressure on KCCA.
In fact, he initiated the move that would build up to the first and only goal of the game, scored by Lemponye 10 minutes before half-time.
The goalscorer nearly capitalised on sloppy defending but Ikara's intervention could not have come at a better time.
KCCA, who became the first Ugandan side to qualify for this stage of the lucrative continental competition, returned from the break a much-changed side: brighter, more confident and on the front foot.
Had Filbert Obenchan been more clinical from a corner, the Kasasiro Boys would have been level two minutes into the second half.
Constant pressing by the visitors appeared to have sucked the life out of Rollers. But even in their seemingly subdued state, the hosts' main men at the front still carried the sort of potent any defender wished not to face.
Julius Poloto had a busy night.
Allan Okello was simply not having the football gods do him any favours - usually, the youngster shines at home but struggles away from the comforts of the StarTimes Stadium.
And it showed in Gaborone.
He played under his shadow and once, his careless back pass could have caused KCCA trouble in the 29th minute. But Obenchan's clearance kept them in the game - barely. Six minutes later, they would inevitably trail.
The Ugandan representatives will return home with tails between their legs, but such defeat will have been seen as an illustration of just how competitive the group stage is.
There are five group games left to play and among these, KCCA will have to meet Al Ahly of Egypt and Esperance on Tunisia.
The two north African sides played out a goalles game also on Friday. It means Rollers lead Group A while KCCA are rock-bottom.
KCCA will maintain their attention on the CAF Champions League as they host Al Ahly on May 15, before shifting focus to league football to play Bright Stars four days later.
Meanwhile, it is continental football for Rollers, who visit Esperance on May 15.