RAYON Sports, the reigning Rwandan champions and one-time CECAFA Kagame Cup winners, have been drawn with DR Congo giants TP Mazembe in Group A of this year’s tournament, due next month in Rwanda.
The four-team group also comprises KMC of Tanzania and South Sudan’s Atlabara.
Rwanda will be hosting the tournament, Africa’s oldest club competition, for the first time since 2014.
Local giants APR, who are in Group C along with Green Buffaloes of Zambia, Ugandan outfit Proline and Heegan from Somalia, won three of the previous four editions held in Rwanda – in 2004, 2007 and 2010 – before finishing second 2014.
Two-time reigning champions Azam will be confident of progressing to the last eight after drawing home side Mukura, Bandari of Kenya and Uganda’s KCCA in Group B.
Gor Mahia, Kenya’s most successful club, will go into the two-week competition as Group D favourites following their relatively easy draw against Motema Pembe of DR Congo, KMKM of Zanzibar and Djibouti’s AS Ports.
Speaking during the drawing ceremony at Ferwafa headquarters on Friday, the Cecafa Secretary General, Nicholas Musonye, underscored that sixteen teams is a fitting number for a good tournament.
"The tournament is going to be very competitive,” he said, noting that “the addition of guest teams from DR Congo and Zambia will be a good test to our players and clubs ahead of the new continental football season.”
Azam Rwanda Premier League side Mukura are one of the three teams that were approved at last minute, along with Motema Pembe (DR Congo) and Atlabara of South Sudan.
Group A and Group C matches will be played in Kigali, Group B in Huye District, while Umuganda Stadium, in Rubavu District, will host Group D games.
Winners of the annual tournament will go home with $30,000 (Rwf27 million) in cash prize, beaten finalists pocket $20,000 (Rwf18 million) while the second runners-up will receive $10,000, around Rwf9 million.
Group stage draw
Group A: Rayon Sports (Rwa), TP Mazembe (DRC), KMC (Tan), Atlabara (S. Sudan)
Group B: Azam (Tan), Mukura (Rwa), Bandari (Ken) and KCCA (Ug)
Group C: APR (Rwa), Green Buffaloes (Zam), Proline (Ug) and Heegan (Som)
Group D: Gor Mahia (Ken), DC Motema Pembe (DRC), KMKM (Zan), and AS Ports (Dji)