Branko sticks to experienced Ntaganda and Lomami
CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup
Zambia v Djibouti
Sudan v Kenya
Zanzibar v Somalia
Uganda v Rwanda
Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Zanzibar and Somalia
Sudan, Kenya, Eritrea, Burundi and Djibouti
Amavubi Stars yesterday flew to Uganda aboard Rwandair Express for this year’s CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup that kicks off this Wednesday.
The 27-man contingent led by Amavubi Stars head coach Tucak Branko is gunning for their first honours since 1999 when Rwanda hosted Africa’s oldest football competition.
Branko is expected to stick to the experience of Elias Ntaganda and Jean Lomami after naming the pair in his final 20-man team.
The pair, initially dropped from the provisional team for disciplinary reasons is expected to add steel to the team’s defense and striking line.
In the recent past, Amavubi have not been sharp enough before goal and the Croat together with his technical staff believe that Lomami adds that extra width in the striking force that already boosts of APR’s Labama Bokota, Amagaju’s Jean Bosco Gasana and Papy Nkunda.
Omar Hitimana, Samuel Muhayimana and Uwizeye Waimani did not make the final list.
The team is a combination of young talent and experience and Ferwafa is poised that there is enough quality in the side to make a genuine challenge this year.
Rwanda, Cecafa champions in 1999 came very close to lifting their second honours last year only to lose to Sudan 2-4 on penalties. It was a harsh result to stomach and many Rwandans are eager to cheer their team on this year.
Amavubi Open their campaign this Thursday 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 this opportunity to redeem their faded pride.
Meanwhile, fireworks are expected in the GTV backed tournament with Zambia and defending champions Sudan among the teams expected to light up the Challenge Cup.
Zambia is a guest team. The Chipolopolo was drafted into the tournament as a late replacement for Eritrea who withdrew citing political tension at home.
Zambia, two-time champions in 1984 and 1991 are eager to repeat their 2006 heroics when they won the competition after beating Sudan in the finals.
Cecafa Team: Jean Claude Ndoli, Patrick Rutayisire, Elias Ntaganda, Bonanventure Hategekimana, Jean Bosco Uwacu, Ismael Nshutinamagara, Donatien Tuyizere, Aloua Gaseruka, Aphrodis Mungwarareba, Abdul Uwimana, Eric Gasana, Yves Twajamajoro, Pacifique Mwitenawe, Pekeyake Tuyisenge, Jean Lomami, Papy Nkunda, Jean Bosco Gasana & Labama Bokota.