THE Council of East and Central Africa Football Association, (Cecafa) has launched the first ever pre-Olympic football qualifying competition aimed at enhancing member countries’ chances of reaching the 2016 Games.
Cecafa Secretary General Nicholas Musonye said the under-23 tournament which will be held in Khartoum, Sudan in September will be used to prepare the region ahead of the African Olympic football qualifiers due in the Democratic Republic of Congo next year.
“This year we are spreading our competition across the region and we have lined up four tournaments despite the fact that we have a tight schedule which has the FIFA World Cup.
“We have tried to squeeze our events so that we run our programmes as much as possible and enable our teams and clubs to play football at any level,” Musonye said in a statement.
He noted that as the regional soccer governing body, Cecafa is aware that no football team from the East and Central African region has ever qualified for the Olympic Games.
“That is why we are holding this event to nurture the teams towards the African qualifiers. We are keen to have at least one team coming from this region for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro,” Musonye said from Nairobi on Thursday.
Sudan will also stage Cecafa’s maiden Nile Basin Cup Winners Cup for league runner-up teams in May and June this year. Nile Basin competition will feature teams that finished second or won their respective domestic cups in the 12-member countries.
Peace Cup winners AS Kigali will represent Rwanda in the inaugural Nile Basin Cup that runs from May 20 to June 5 with SC Victoria University, Azam FC and AFC Leopards representing Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.
Ethiopia will host the 2014 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup between November and December, while Rwanda will host the Kagame Club Cup in August. This will be the first time for Ethiopia to host the event since 2006.
A Cecafa delegation will visit Addis Ababa after the Fifa World Cup [June/July] to finalise the arrangements and sponsorship package.
Musonye also announced that Fifa will sponsor a seminar for Cecafa Communication Directors in Dar es Salaam between April 30 and May 2.
All the chairmen of national FAs, general secretaries and communication officers from all member associations will attend. The seminar will be graced by Fifa secretary general Jerome Valke who arrives in Dar es Salaam on May 30.