NAIROBI, November 11 – Harambee Stars head coach Bobby Williamson says they are not ready for the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup that gets underway next weekend in Ethiopia’s capital; Addis Ababa.
This comes after Cecafa Secretary General Nicholas Musonye released the revised draw on Wednesday where champions Kenya will renew their rivalry with neighbours Uganda in a tricky pool B that also consists of Burundi and Zanzibar.
Williamson who is preparing his charges for Friday’s 2018 World Cup second round, first leg, pre-qualifier against Cape Verde, suffered a major blow after Belgian based winger, Ayub Timbe was ruled out of the clash that will be hosted at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium.
Timbe who was instrumental in Stars’ 5-2 aggregate win over Mauritius in the first round, picked up an injury last week while playing for his club Lierse SK.
He affirmed they will not have time to train for the regional showpiece since they will be away for four days to honour the return leg fixture against the Islanders.
“We are not ready for Cecafa. The preparations are going to be difficult because we will be away for almost a week and when we come back, we will head straight to Ethiopia, so there will be no time to train local based players.
“It’s challenging because we have two groups of players (in camp) so it’s been pretty difficult. We could have done better if we started preparations early,” Williamson who guided Uganda Cranes to four Cecafa Cup titles, asserted.
The Scotsman’s sentiments were echoed by his skipper and Southampton FC midfielder; Victor Wanyama, who slammed Football Kenya Federation for once again, failing to send air tickets to foreign based players in good time.
“We have always had a problem with preparations and there is nothing different this time. Hopefully, both squads for the World Cup qualifier and Cecafa will gel in the few days remaining and be ready to represent the country.
“The federation is yet to refund us money we used to pay for our air tickets. The foreign based players in camp paid for their own tickets including me,” Wanyama underlined.
-Malawi guest team-
Contrary to the earlier draw where Zambia was listed as the guest team, Malawi is the only non-Cecafa side and are in a relatively easy pool C alongside Sudan, South Sudan and Djibouti.
Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Somali will battle it out in a tough pool A.
The two-week long tournament will be hosted in three venues with Addis Ababa and Awasa hosting Group A and B while Group C matches will be played in Bar Dah.
“All last group matches will be played in Awasa then we return to Addis for the knockout and final. We thank the Government of Ethiopia for sponsoring this competition. Everything has been put in place and so far so good we don’t have issues on the ground,” Musonye underscored.
Meanwhile, the regional football governing body will hold its General Assembly on the eve of the tournament to elect new president and Executive Committee Members.
Incumbent Cecafa boss, Leondegar Tenga, from Tanzania will be seeking re-election in the race that has his vice and former Federation of Uganda Football Association chief, Lawrence Mulindwa.
Other candidates are the President of Rwanda Football Association, Vincent Nzamwita, Mutasim Sirelkhatim Gaffar of Sudan and Ethiopia’s Juneid Bashar Tilmo.
“Apart from the competition we will have our General Assembly to elect new leaders of Cecafa where we have five candidates standing for presidency and six for the Committee Membership.
“We want to look at our statutes to make some changes to conform the current trend in the world because using the constitution that was enacted in 2006,” the Secretary General announced.