Uganda: Is Cecafa Tourney Still That Huge?

Kampala — In the next few days, the Tusker CECAFA Challenge cup kicks off in Kampala.

However, the question that comes after is whether the tournament still holds the prestige that was accorded to it before. This comes on the heels of the pronouncement by Kenya's coach that the tournament is not as important as other tournaments.

For starters, CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup is the oldest national soccer competition on the continent and dates as far back as 1926. At the start, it was called Gossage Cup after it was sponsored by a soap manufacturing company called Gossage.

Officially, the competition started in 1973 but has changed names on a number of occasions due to sponsorship deals.

Kenya Coach Henri Michel said that CECAFA Tusker Challenge Cup is not as important to Harambe Stars as the Championship of African Nations (CHAN) qualifiers.

The Harambe Stars were drawn against Burundi in the first round of the CHAN qualifiers.

"Am focusing on preparing the side for the African Championship of Nations (CHAN) against Burundi and other qualification matches", he told futaa.com.

"Cecafa is not so important to me at the moment", he added.

Kenya is pooled alongside defending champions Uganda, Cecafa's representative at next year's AFCON Ethiopia and Somalia.

Michel added, "I repeat again, CECAFA is not important for me than the other qualifications, but we will just play. And concerning the group stage, I don't think it's hard; we will see the results in the field."

Perennial punching bag, Djibouti a member of CECAFA pulled out of the tournament. Organizers chose Malawi as the guest nation for the 2012 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup. Malawi was chosen ahead of Cameroun who had also shown interest in taking part in the tournament.

This was confirmed by the body's General Secretary Nicholas Musonye who insisted the council opted for Malawi ahead of Cameroun because they are closer to the borders than the Indomitable Lions.

"We had an application from Cameroon but we opted to go with Malawi because when you have a party you cannot leave out your next door neighbour and go for one from far", Musonye said.

"Malawi will be replacing Djibouti which pulled out. We could had considered Cameroon too but having 13 teams will simply complicate the draw so we opted to leave it at 12", he explained.

However, some sports pundits thought that inviting a stronger nation such as Cameroun would give the nations a tougher test which would help the region in gauging their strengths.

The confirmed 12 participants at this year's edition are hosts Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Sudan, Burundi, Somalia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Rwanda, Zanzibar, Malawi, Somalia and South Sudan.

Uganda are defending champions and also won it the last time they hosted in 2009 after beating Kenya 1-0 in the finals. The tournament, will take place between November 24 and December 8 2012.

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