NAIROBI, Kenya, May 12 – Struggling AFC Leopards have been drawn in a relatively easy Group B of the inaugural May 22 to June 4 Cecafa Nile Basin Cup in Sudan where 16 teams have confirmed participation.
The GOtv Shield winners will take on host club Merreikh Al-Fasher, Tanzania’s Mbeya City and Elman from Somalia while Uganda’s Victoria University are in Pool A alongside Sudanese giants Al-Merreikh, Southern Sudan’s Malakia and Police FC from Zanzibar.
Speaking Monday when announcing the draw in Nairobi, Cecafa Secretary General Nicholas Musonye said the tournament will take place in three cities; Khartoum, Port Sudan and Shandy with only Eritrea failing to send a representative from the 12 regional affiliates.
“We are looking forward to have a good competition and our intention is to organise many competitions to give our teams strength to compete with the rest in Africa.
“This is our mini Cup of Nations and we expect to have a competitive tournament at the end of the day since it’s our first event before we break for the World Cup and come back for the Club Championship,” Musonye declared.
At the same the Secretary General added they are on course to introduce the women tournament in their calendar from next year as well as the Under 17 competition.
Egypt who are the guest nation and the hosts have produced two teams each for the planned annual competition that features clubs that finished runners up or won cups in their domestic leagues.
Ingwe, who will be based in Khartoum, will open their campaign against Elman on the second day then face Mbeya before wrapping up their preliminary round with Al-Fasher as the first two progress to the quarter-finals to be held May 29 and 30.
Eritrea might have opted to give the event a berth after most of their national side went missing last December during the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup in Kenya won by the hosts.
It was the third time for the nation’s talent to go missing from their country at regional tournaments after earlier absconding from the same event in Uganda and again Kenya.
Nile Basin Draw
Group A: Al-Merreikh (Sudan), Victoria University (Uganda), Malakia (Southern Sudan), Police (Zanzibar)
Group B: Merreikh Al-Fasher, AFC Leopards (Kenya), Mbeya City (Tanzania), Elman (Somalia)
Group C: Al-Ahli Shandi (Sudan), Al Masry (Egypt), Defiance (Ethiopia), Dkhill FC (Djibouti)
Group D: Hey Al Arab (Sudan), Arab Contractors (Egypt), Flambeau EST (Burundi),Etincelles (Rwanda)