NAIROBI, November 20 – Harambee Stars has been pooled in a tough group B in this year’s East and Central Senior Challenge (Cecafa) Cup.
Stars will face off with reigning champions Sudan, Eritrea, Burundi and Djibouti in this year’s tourney which will be held in Uganda from December 31 to January 13.
Last year’s finalists Rwanda are in group A with Uganda Cranes, Tanzania’s Taifa Stars, Zanzibar and Somalia.
Stars will open their campaign against the Sudan on New Year’s Eve in Jinja. They will then face Eritrea in the second match on January 2 before playing Djibouti four days later.
Kimanzi’s boys will wind up their group matches against Burundi on January 8th in a match that will be broadcast live on GTV.
The two group winners and runners up will qualify for the semifinals which will be held on January 11. The final will be played in Kampala on January 13.
Despite the tough draw, Stars go into the tournaments as firm favourites following their exploits in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers that saw them make it to the final round.
They will however to have to fare much better than in last year’s campaign when they sneaked through to the last eight after a lackluster 2-0 win over Somalia before crashing out on post match penalties against Uganda.
In Kampala, Stars will have to face off with Sudan who are the only other team in the region to make it to final World Cup qualifying round. They will then take on Eritrea where they will be seeking revenge after a 2-1 loss at the hands of the Red Sea boys.
GTV will fund the tournament to the tune of Sh.31.5 million annually over a four year period. The money will be used to cater for airfare of the teams to the host country, accommodation, internal transport, facilitation and prize money.
The winner gets Sh1.98 million, the runner up Sh.1.32 and the third placed team will receive Sh660,000.
The CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup is the oldest football tournament in Africa.
It replaced Gossage Cup which was held 37 times from 1926 until 1966, and the East and Central African Senior Challenge Cup, held 7 times between 1965 and 1971.
Uganda is the most successful team having won it a record nine times followed by Kenya which has won it five times. Ethiopia has won it four times while Malawi won it three times.
GROUP – A- Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Zanzibar and Somalia
GROUP -B – Sudan, Kenya, Burundi, Djibouti and Eritrea.