Burundi vs Somalia 1pm
Tanzania vs Zambia 3pm
THE long-awaited Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup gets underway this afternoon when Burundi take on minnows Somali at 1pm. But the big game of the day is the clash between hosts Tanzania and guest side Zambia.
Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro Stars will seek inspiration from their 1-0 win over Kenya’s Harambee Stars in mid-week.
Tanzania’s head coach Jan Poulsen has rallied the team to rise to the occasion with a top notch display as they chase for a third Challenge Cup title.
They first won it in 1974 before claiming their second title twenty years later, 1994. On paper, the hosts together with Zambia are favourite to progress from Group A but Poulsen expects Burundi to come out charging.
Rwanda’s Amavubi Stars, who jetted out this morning, will open their Group B campaign tomorrow with a stern test against Ivory Coast.
Interestingly, the sides are booked in the same hotel; Tansoma Hotel in Kariakoo area.
Sunday’s other tie pits Zanzibar against Sudan.
Bitter rivals Kenya and reigning champions Uganda are also booked in Land Mark Ubungo, alongside Malawi and Ethiopia.
Zanzibar, Burundi and Zambia are camped at Johannesburg Hotel in Sinza, while the hosts are accommodated at Atriums hotel.
Referees summoned for the tournament include Issa Kagabo from Rwanda, Rassas Librato Sabit (Sudan), Israel Mujuni (Tanzania), Dennis Bate (Uganda), Ramadhan Kibo (Zanzibar) and Bamlak Weyesa Tessema (Ethiopia).
Assistant referees are Charles Nizigiyimana from Burundi, Gebre Silassie Solomon (Ethiopia), Wamalwa Elias Kuloba (Kenya), Theogene Ndagijimana (Rwanda), Hamis Chang’walu (Mainland), Bugembe Hussein (Uganda), Medany Mustafa (Sudan) and Bashir Arab (Somalia)
In 2006, Zambia - invited as guests alongside Malawi - won the tournament, but the trophy and prize money went to the finalists Uganda.
But, in a departure from the past norm, Cecafa Secretary General Nicholas Musonye said that if a guest team emerges as champions, they would be allowed to take the money home.
The Cecafa Challenge Cup, including its predecessor the Gossage Cup, is the oldest international competition on the African continent, having first been played in 1926.
Uganda, who have won the event a record 11 times, are aiming to become the first team to win a hat-trick of titles since Kenya triumphed from 1981 to 1983.
Kenya has five titles, Ethiopia four while Malawi and Sudan have lifted the title three times each.
Rwanda has won it once, in 1999.