Burundi, as expected, strolled to an easy 4-1 Group B victory over Somalia in the opening match of the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup at the National Stadium, Dar es Salaam, on Friday.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who is on an official visit to Tanzania, took time out to see the action but was not in time to see the five-goal feast.
He watched the second group match between Cecafa’s most successful team, Uganda, against Zanzibar.
Two first-half goals from Floribert Ndayisaba and Papy Faty, together with strikes from Cedric Amissi and Faudi Ndayisenga, showed the gulf between the two sides.
Khalid Ali slotted in a penalty two minutes into added time in the second half to give Somalia some consolation.
Somalia’s Kenyan coach Alfred Imonje, just one month into the job, was philosophical in defeat.
“This is a very young side learning the game at this level. They conceded soft goals and I will need to talk to them,” Imonje said.
“The score line was disappointing to the boys but they need to look ahead to the other games.”
Burundi were the superior side, helped in part by some very poor goalkeeping from Somali number one Qalid Ali who was caught napping from a free kick taken by Ndayisaba in the 30th minute and could again not pull out a save from Faty’s 20-metre curling effort at the stroke of halftime.
His worst howler was, however, on 54 minutes when he somehow failed to hold onto Amissi’s innocuous looking free kick from far wide.
Burundi continued to dominate without seeming to hit the higher gears. Impressive second-half substitute Ndayisenga, who plies his trade in Rwanda for Rayon Sports, controlled a cross from a suspiciously offside position to beat the keeper from close range on 86 minutes.
Somalia however provided a small twist in the end. Didier Karumbagu rashly brought down Dek Abdulahi in extra time and Khalid Ali confidently stepped up to dispatch the spot kick home.
Hosts and defending champions Tanzania play Rwanda in a Group A tie at the National Stadium in the only fixture of the day.
Backed by a population of some 42 million people, Tanzania will be looking for only their fourth Cecafa title.
Taxi driver Stephen Tafuna said: “We (Tanzanians) talk a lot about how good we are but we do not have a team. Our football leaders have failed and I do no see us going far this year.” In another match, Uganda beat Zanzibar 2-1.
On Saturday, Tanzania tackle Rwanda at 4pm.