First half goals from Djuma Muhamedi and Shaka Bienvenue was all ‘Intamba mu Rugamba’ need to silence the homers.
The Ethiopians regrouped and began to pile pressure in the quest to level matters. Burundi goalkeeper Rukundo Onesime pulled off a superb save to deny Eyob Alemayehu in the 10th minute.
Although, the Junior Walias were in full control; they were not efficient enough in the final third as Burundi opted to defend and attack on swift counter and dangerous set pieces.
The home side saw themselves trailing 2-0 in the 22nd minute when Bienvenue doubled the lead for the visitors. Ethiopian goalie Tsiyon Merid managed to save Mabano Shabani’s header but Bienvenue turned the ball in from close range from the rebound.
The hosts could not make any meaningful attempt at goal towards reducing the deficit.
Ethiopia changed their game plan in the second half keeping the Burundians busy in their halve, with captain Mesay Pawlos heading wide from close range on 55 minutes.
Five minutes later, Burundi squandered a glorious chance that could have put the game to bed. Bienvenue set up Muhamedi inside the area but the latter spurred an absolute sitter from 4 meters out.
The Ethiopians had numerous scoring chances with Abubakher Nessero and Mikias Mekonnen failing to convert efforts that came their way as Burundi run away with a sweet win.
The second leg is scheduled for Saturday, 21 April 2018 at the Stade Urukundo in Ngozi.
Atanfu Alemu (Head Coach, Ethiopia)
The game was very tough. My boys gave everything to win the game. I take full responsibility for the loss. We can only work harder from this point. The goals we conceded were due to the concentration lapse. We lacked international exposure and I think that was a challenge for us. Our preparation has not been in par with our opponents.
Joslin Bipfubusa (Head Coach, Burundi)
This has been an exciting and good encounter. Our opponents were good with the ball. They possessed the ball more and made the game a bit challenging for us. Since they played short passes, we were more cautious and opted to play with long balls and counter attacks. The important thing is our strategy yielded fruit and gave us the result we were craving for. We shall play better at home and I hope we will win and progress to the next round.