By the time Yassir Cellistino replaced Deng Magik in the second half of Ethiopia's 3-0 riot over South Sudan, the damage had long been done and Coach Abdalrahaman Chol's charges obviously managing the harm Waaliya Antelopes looked to compound.
Magik, a burly center-half, limped off in the 70th minute for Yassir who- after the match- still believes they are in for this year's title.
''It was a bad game, a bad start for us but I don't blame anyone because it wasn't our day. Our opponents were superior and they had a great day. However it's not over yet,'' says Yassir.
Day one of Group B action had Uganda Cranes share the spoils with Burundi and on the second, Ethiopia's hiding of South Sudan sent them top of the Group. With two more matches yet to be played for each team, Yassir sees his side picking six points from Uganda and Burundi.
''We still have two more games ahead of us and we hope to pick maximum points from the ties. We came here for the trophy and even after losing the first match, it's still not too late. We are still in the game because we have two more ahead of us,'' he asserts.
An Abel Tilahun brace and a powerful Abdela Sani drive were the three chances Ethiopia converted despite missing a dozen others. South Sudan, though reaching the quarter-finals of the 2015 edition, looked a pale shadow of the 2015 team and Yasssir attributes the poor show general team mistakes.
''It was a general team error against Ethiopia and I cannot point out specific areas of weaknesses. We made a few mistakes and the opponents utilized the same to grab their win. We are going to correct all those errors and hope for a great second game.
South Sudan next takes on defending champions Uganda Cranes on Friday 8th from 3PM at the Bukhungu Stadium and will be wary of the threat Moses Basena's charges will pose having been held to a frustrating barren draw by Burundi themselves.