Friday November 17, 2017
Somalia and Sudan have withdrawn from the regional 2017 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup, with hosts Kenya being drawn to face stiff competition from invited team, Libya, and neighbouring rival Tanzania.
The organizers also announced in Nairobi on Thursday that the other invited side, Zimbabwe, will travel for the regional tournament whose start has been pushed back to Dec. 3 despite the political turmoil in that country.
Cecafa Secretary General, Nicholas Musonye said the remaining 10 teams had been placed in two groups with the top two qualifying directly to the semi-finals."I'm in communication with Zimbabwe despite what's happening the team will come. These are some of the reasons we had to push forward the competition also bearing in mind we had to comply with FIFA requirements by filling in forms which took time," Musonye told journalists in Nairobi.
"Sudan just held local football federation elections and the new office is yet to summon a new team. Their league is also ending on Dec. 7 and if they come for the tournament, they will be forced to postpone the competition," he said.
Musonye added noting Somalia would skip the competition since they were reconstituting their national team.
"Every team has to prepare well for the task. I urge the Football Kenya Federation and its national team to brace themselves for an uphill task because as the hosts, they must steer the tournament by doing well," Musonye added.
In Group A, Kenya's Harambee Stars will be tested to the limits after landing guest team Libya and Tanzania with former champions, Rwanda and Zanzibar completing the pool.
Record winners, Uganda, the second invited guest team, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Ethiopia and Southern Sudan will vie for semi-final places from Group B.
Cecafa 2017 Local Organising Committee (LOC) head Herbart Mwachiro declared they considered participating teams FIFA Rankings and past performances in deciding the pools.
Bukhungu in Kakamega and Moi Stadium in Kisumu, all in Western Kenya, will host the Group A and B of the 10-team competition with Kenya opening the 2017 Cecafa with a testing clash against the Amavubi Stars of Rwanda on Dec. 3.