Tanzania 2-1 Kenya
Uganda v Djibouti-12:30 pm
Rwanda v Eritrea- 3 pm
Amavubi Stars new coach Josip Kuze is today facing his first real African football test when his side takes on Eritrea in the GTV Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup in Dar -es -Salaam, Tanzania.
The Croat would very much so need to win this tournament if he is going to the chance to earn early recognition from his bosses, the fans and but most importantly the rivals.
The 55-year-old said before departure to Tanzania with the team that he wants to use this tournament to prepare his a strong side that could go on to top group H, which also includes Morocco, Ethiopia and Mauritania in the 2010 CAN/Fifa qualifiers but at the same time focus on the $30.000 at stake for the winning team in Tanzania.
One time winner, Rwanda is among the 11 countries contesting for regional supremacy in addition to $30,000 (about Frw 16M) prize money at stake for the eventual champion.
The Amavubi stars stepped foot in Dar -es -Salaam on Thursday, and make their first appearance today against light-weight Eritrea. Uganda and Djibouti are Rwanda’s other Group B opponents.
Rwanda was last grouped against Eritrea during the 2005 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup which was held in Kigali. Rwanda won the group tie 3-2 to advance to the later stages of the event before losing to Ethiopia 1-0 in the final game.
If Kuze prepares his boys well and they build up their confidence level then Amavubi Stars should hold their own at this stage. But they will want to avoid Sudan from Group “C” or Tanzania from Group “A” at this stage – the in-form teams coming to the tournament.
Labama Bokota, top scorer in the Primus national league last season should be the key in Amavubi’s hunt for goals.
Elias Uzamukunda, Abedi Mulenda and Roger Tuyisenge are vying for the remaining striking place if Kuze goes with a formation that accommodates two front men.
Patrick Mafisango is the creative cog in midfield; he will get deeper help from Manfred Kizito while Haruna Niyonzima can bring in some width from either wing.
New captain Ismail Nshutinamagara and Bonaventure Hategikimana form the centre-back core while Mbuyu Twite and Olivier Uwingabire take the two fullback positions.
The Amavubi stars finished third in last year’s edition under former coach Michael Nees but hope for a step ahead with new coach Kuze.
The Cecafa Championship is the 80-year old region’s premier soccer competition and the oldest Cup competition in Africa.
Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia and Burundi complete Group A, while Zanzibar, Sudan and Ethiopia in group C.
Sudan, the only country at the tournament the qualified for next year’s African Cup of will be using to as a warm-up for finals in Ghana.
The losing finalists will walk away with $20.000 and $10.000 for the team that take third place but there will be additional prize money for the most promising players, top goalkeeper and leading scorer. Zambia, guests at last year’s tournament, won the title.
British-based Gateway Television (GTV) signed a four year deal to sponsor the regional Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup to the tune of US $ 6 million (Frw.3.27b).
The Cecafa championship kicked off yesterday with a cracking fixture that ended in 2-1 win for hosts Tanzania over Kenya’s Harambee Stars.