2008 GTV Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup
Group A: Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zanzibar and Somalia
Group B: Kenya, Sudan, Zambia, Djibouti and Burundi
Jan 1: Zanzibar v Somalia
Jan 1: Uganda v Rwanda
Dec 31: Zambia v Djibouti
Dec 31: Sudan v Kenya
Jules Kalisa feels that Rwanda’s Amavubi Stars have enough quality to make a genuine challenge at this year’s Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup in Uganda.
The regional tournament kicking off on December 31 has attracted ten teams split into two groups.
Group A pits Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Zanzibar and Somalia while Group B has Zambia, Kenya, Sudan, Burundi, and Djibouti.
Amavubi could be missing influential players like Haruna Niyonzima, Jean Baptista Mugiraneza, Jean Luc Ndayishimiye and Patrick Mafisango but Ferwafa’s Chief Executive Officer insists that there is enough quality in the side to cover up.
“Since our first appearance in this competition, we have never failed to progress past the group stage so it’s not about getting past it any more but trying to go all the way and win the tournament,” said Kalisa.
Rwanda, who won the competition back in 1999, came very close to lifting their second title last year only to be pipped by Sudan in the final.
After a fascinating 2-2 draw in normal time, Sudan lifted the title after seeing off the Amavubi Stars 4-2 on penalties. It was a harsh result to stomach and Amavubi Stars’ head coach Tucak Branko has a tough task to try and go all the way this year.
Rwanda opens her campaign on January 1, 2009 with a much anticipated clash against arch-rivals Uganda at Namboole stadium. Just like Rwanda, Uganda is equally anxious to get something out of the tournament.
After failing to progress to the final stage of the 2010 World/Nations Cup qualifiers, it is obvious that the Ugandans want to use the opportunity to redeem their faded pride.
Just like in 2006, Zambia is a guest team this year. The Chipolopolo were drafted into the tournament as a late replacement for Eritrea who withdrew citing political tensions at home.
Before joining Cosafa (Council of Southern African Football Associations), Zambia was a two-time champion (1984 and 1991).
In 2006, Zambia still as a guest team won the event in Addis Ababa after beating Sudan in the finals.
Inviting West African teams
In a bid to reinstate the Cecafa region as Africa’s football powerhouse, fresh reports have revealed that next year’s Senior Challenge Cup edition will incorporate a team from the West African Football Union (Wafu).
According to the Cecafa president Leodegar Tenga, inviting strong teams will add value and also improve the level of competition. Any one of the following teams could be invited; Togo, Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast or Guinea.
Tenga, who featured for Tanzanian giants Young Africans back in his playing days acknowledged the gap left by the departure of Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe, who relocated to play in the Cosafa Cup in 1994.
“All eyes were always on this region as far as football was concerned but we believe that the invitation of tougher guest teams will do us good,” he was quoted as saying.
Cecafa gets Crown cash
Meanwhile, on top of GTV (Africa’s revolutionary Pay TV Company)’s lucrative package for this year’s Cecafa edition, Crown Beverages have also splashed about Frw 7.5m in the tournament which kicks off next week on Wednesday.
It is also said that the franchise holders of Pepsi International will be providing a soft drink to each ticket holder during the tournament.
Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup is the oldest international football tournament in Africa, with the first version of the event held in 1926.
Uganda is still the most successful team with nine titles although the last of those came back in 2003.