COACH Kim Poulsen is set to name the Mainland national soccer team Kilimanjaro Stars squad today for the forthcoming CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup which gets underway in Kampala, Uganda on November 24 to December 8 this year.
The Dane coach is expected to retain most of players currently with the national soccer team Taifa Stars, which played against Kenya's Harambee Stars in a friendly match at the CCM Kirumba Stadium. Poulsen is likely to fill the void of defenders Aggrey Morris, Issa Rashid, Nassoro Masoud 'Chollo' who are set to join Zanzibar Heroes for the similar assignment in Kampala.
After the disappointment of missing out on the 2013 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals in South Africa, Poulsen would definitely be determined to excel in the regional championship, which his predecessor, countryman and name sake Jan Poulsen won two years ago. Kilimanjaro Stars got a relatively easy draw in the group stages of the tournament, in which they have been drawn in Group B alongside Burundi, Somalia and Sudan--the only strong opponents in the group.
Kilimanjaro Stars will launch their campaign in the tournament on November 25 against Sudan at the National Stadium in Kampala. They will play Burundi in their second match three days later before winding up the group stage on December 1 against Somalia.
Host Uganda has been drawn in Group 'A' together with Kenya's Harambee Stars, 2013 Africa Cup of Nations bound Ethiopia as well as CAF's newest member South Sudan. Guest Malawi has landed in Group 'C' where they will meet Rwanda, Zanzibar as well as Eritrea.
The opener on Saturday November 24, from 15:00hrs local time will be a Group 'A' tie between Ethiopia and South Sudan. Thereafter, host Uganda will take on Kenya from 18:00hrs local time. Both games will be played at Namboole Stadium. There will be two games a day save for Saturday December 1, where there will be four games; two apiece in Groups 'B' and 'C'.
The quarter-finals are on December 3 and 4, with the semi-finals on December 6. The final is on December 8 and all games will be live on SuperSport TV at Namboole Stadium. Cecafa secretary general Nicholas Musonye, who presided over the draws in Kampala, was confident of a successful tournament.
"We have all the confidence that Uganda will put up a good show as hosts," he said. Malawi will be the only guest team in this year's tournament. Three countries including Cameroon and Zimbabwe had earlier showed interest in participating in the same tournament but the regional organising committee picked out Malawi.
Uganda are record holders of the championship as they look forward to excel at home and extend title haul to 13 times. The tournament, which is sponsored by East African Breweries and officially named the 2012 CECAFA Tusker Challenge Cup, will see South Sudan participate in their first international football tournament. East African Breweries Limited (EABL) through their Tusker brand, are the officials sponsors of the tournament to a tune of US$450,000.
Meanwhile, CECAFA Secretary General Nicholas Musonye has declared Uganda ready to host this year's Cecafa Tusker Challenge Cup which gets underway on November 24 to December 8 in Kampala. "Everything is ready.
Stadiums are ready, hotels and transport facilities are in place," Musonye was quoted by Ugandan media as saying on Monday after the tournament's draw held in Kampala. He added, "teams and officials will be treated well and on top of that, we expect a thrilling competition."