Recently the Kenyan football federation threatened to pull out of this year’s Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup if the tournament is held in Kampala, a warning that the body’s Secretary General Nicholas Musonye seemed adamant and less concerned to act upon.
Kenya is one of Cecafa’s founding members and a top football country in the region and has actively been involved in all Cecafa tournaments since its inception in the early 1970s.
Kenya is a coherent member of the regional body, who should be constituted in the planning and running of Cecafa affairs for the good of its integrity.
The decision to let Kenya pull out of this year’s Senior Challenge Cup will affect the emotional and competitiveness of the tournament.
The senior challenge cup without Kenya is comparable to a Fifa World Cup without Brazil or Italy or Germany. The three teams have won the World Cup more than other countries and have had descent records at the world event.
Based on recent performances in all international competitions, there is no doubt that Kenya is one of the top sporting countries in the region. They have won medals at the Olympic Games yet many CECAFA member countries have failed on several attempts.
Even in football, the Kenyan football league boost with the best sponsorship package from South African based company Super Sport and other locally based companies.
With such a rich financial source, they are expected to boast the most competitive league in the region. Fans of Kenyan football and their sponsors from Super sport would be hugely disappointed if Kenya missed out of the tournament in Kampala.
Kenya boasts the highest number of professional players playing in some of the most elite football leagues in Europe.
The likes of MacDonald Mariga, who plays for Real Sociedad in Spain, Denis Oliech, who features for French League 1 side Auxerre and Vicent Wanyama, who plies his trade at Scottish champions Glasgow Celtic.
Musonye sighted Kenya’s lack of some requirements to host the tournament as the reason to shift the event from Kenya to Uganda.
But given the size of the regional body and mechanism of the senior challenge cup conduction, Kenya would not be the country to miss requirements for organizing the two-week tournament.
The senior challenge cup is sponsored by the Kenyan based East African Breweries through its Tusker brand.
With the availability of sponsorship and given the recent political stability in Kenya, soccer pundits in the region will demand more explanations from Cecafa as to why it does not amend rights for Kenya to go ahead with hosting the tournament.
Information from regional circles has indicated a continued love-hate relationship between the regional body and the Kenyan football federation (KFF).
Early this month, KFF made efforts to raise their concern at the CAF congress that convened in Mahe, Seychelle; however, the Confederation of African Football refused to interfere and instead advised the two parties to seek a resolution for the conflict.
At the same meeting, the CECAFA president Leodegar Tenga from Tanzania conducted an abrupt meeting with his executive committee members to discuss senior challenge cup issue.
In this special meeting Tenga had to give clarity and offer special report on the position of CECAFA as to why they deem it necessary to defer the senior challenge cup from Kenya to Uganda.
At the end of the meeting attended by the presidents of CECAFA member associations, it was agreed that Uganda continues with the necessary preparations to host the tournament.
Recently Musonye was in Kampala to officially launch the tournament at Serena Hotel-Kampala. During his inaugural speech, he announced November 24 as the kick off date with the final being played on December 8 at Mandela National stadium.
However sources from www.supersport.co.za indicate that Kenya will instead host a four-nation tournament at the same time to give CECAFA a stiff challenge, which won’t send a good signal as far as CECAFA’s integrity is concerned.