Addressing the media in Nairobi on Wednesday, CECAFA secretary general, Nicholas Musonye revealed that the Eritreans had pulled out of the annual event citing lack of funds as he released the draw for the competition that runs from November 25 to December 10 in Tanzania.
Namibia who sealed their qualification for the 2014 World Cup group stages with an 8-0 aggregate hammering of Djibouti in the pre-qualifiers are therefore, in the same competition with their Group F rivals Kenya and Malawi.
Nigeria is the other country in the pool where the winner will feature at the Brazil 2014 Mundial.
According to the CECAFA draw, Namibia will once again lock horns with Djibouti with defending champions and host Tanzania and Rwanda completing Group A.
Kenyan and Malawi are grouped in Group C alongside Sudan who will feature 2012 Nations Cup and Ethiopia after organisers decided not to include Namibia in that pool to take the slot of Eritrea in a bid not to replicate the World Cup seeding.
“We will also have our Cecafa elections on November 24,” Musonye who will be hoping to retain his secretary general’s seat announced.
While lack of finances have been given as the reason behind the late withdrawal of the Eritreans, authorities in the country must be cognisant to the disappearance of their players to seek political asylum in the last two CECAFA events, the Club Challenge in Nairobi and the Senior Challenge Cup held again in Tanzania last year.
The opening match will see Burundi take on Somalia before Uganda take on Zanzibar later on.
Kenya will acquaint themselves early with World Cup rivals Malawi in the first match in Group C on November 28.
The Flames and Namibia’s Cobs are the invited teams to the East African tournament.