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Tough opening for Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 18  – Harambee Stars open their Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) Senior Challenge Cup against defending champions Sudan on December 31.

Their next match will be on January 2 against Zambia who have replaced Eritrea after the Red Sea Boys withdrew from the tournament due to political reasons. Ethiopia will also miss out.

Francis Kimanzi’s side then take on Djibouti four days later before wrapping up their Group B assignments against Burundi on January 8.

Their first three matches will be held in the industrial Ugandan city of Jinja situated 87 kilometres north east of Kampala while the clash with Burundi will be staged at the Nakivubo Stadium in the capital.

Nakivubo will also host the semi finals on January 11 with the final and third place playoff game slated for January 13 at Nambole Stadium.

The fixtures were released on Thursday at the Nairobi headquarters of pay television company GTV who have secured the tournament’s exclusive broadcasting rights for the second year in a row.

“This year promises to be even bigger and better. We are prepared to thrill football enthusiasts across Africa with professionally shot football action as the nations go head to head to clinch the coveted Senior Challenge Cup,” said GTV Kenya General Manager Charles Waituika.

Mr Waituika believes that Zambia’s involvement in the tourney adds an extra dimension to Africa’s oldest football competition.

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“Zambia  is a very strong team and has qualified for the next round of the 2010 World Cup Qualifiers and will be hoping to use this tournament to prepare their national team for the next step on the road to South Africa,” said Mr Waituika who was flanked by CECAFA Secretary General Nicholas Musonye.

Mr Musonye stated that CECAFA and Uganda’s football governing body FUFA were ready for the tournament and that a few issues were being finalised before the Christmas break.

“We have various sub-committees for the tournament and every team has done their part to ensure that it is a success,” said Musonye.

Stars were bundled out of the last year’s competition in the quarter final stage by Uganda 4-2 on penalties after drawing the match one all in regular time.

Stars fixtures:

Wed Dec 31 – Kenya v Sudan – 4 p.m.
Friday Jan 2 – Kenya v Zambia – 4 p.m.
Tue Jan 6 – Kenya v Djibouti – 1.30 p.m.
Thurs Jan 8 – Kenya v Burundi – 4 p.m.
Sun Jan 11 – Semi finals
Tue Jan 13 – Third/Fourth place playoff; Final

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