Football Football

Little rest for Stars as Cecafa Cup looms

Harambee Stars training for their World Cup qualifier against Cape Verde in Nairobi. PHOTO/File
Harambee Stars training for their World Cup qualifier against Cape Verde in Nairobi. PHOTO/File

NAIROBI, November 20- Cecafa cup holders Kenya have little rest after their elimination from the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, as they prepare for the defence of their title in Ethiopia on Sunday.

The Kenyans, who lost 2-1 to Cape Verde Islanders — after their return leg match in Praia was hit by chaotic travel preparations — are drawn to play high-flying Uganda in the opening match in Addis Ababa.

Under Bobby Williamson, Uganda won four Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup titles, but the 54-year-old Scot has not managed to translate that success with Kenya since he took over as the national team coach in August 2014.

The Cecafa cup competition is Williamson’s fifth major tournament with the team this year after losses to Egypt and Botswana in the Rio Olympics and African under-23 qualifiers respectively, and also in the CHAN 2016 where they were eliminated by Ethiopia in the first round.

“We are disappointed that we had every chance to reach the group phase of the 2018 World Cup, but we are now looking forward to having a great run in the Cecafa championships as we prepare for African Cup of Nations qualifying matches. It is what we can look for and hope to do better,” Williamson said on Friday.

“Uganda are a strong team – not because they have the tournament more times than any other team, but they arrive in Addis Ababa with their heads high after qualifying into the next round of the 2018 World Cup.”

Uganda, who beat Togo at home and away to earn a 4-0 aggregate win, are the only survivor from the East Africa region still in contention for the World Cup finals in Russia in 2018.

Tanzania, who suffered a 9-2 mauling by Algeria, will play Somalia in the second match of the day on Sunday in Addis.

Malawi will play as a guest team, and are drawn in Group C alongside Djibouti, Sudan and South Sudan.

Cecafa Challenge Cup draw and fixtures:

GROUP A: Ethiopia, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania

GROUP B: Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Zanzibar

GROUP C: Djibouti, Malawi, Sudan, South Sudan

In Addis Ababa on Saturday:

Group A Burundi Vs Zanzibar (12.00 GMT)

Group B Ethiopia Vs Rwanda (14.00 GMT)

In Addis Ababa on Sunday:

Group A Somalia Vs Tanzania (11.00 GMT)

Group B Kenya Vs Uganda (11.00 GMT)

In Awassa on Monday:

Group C: South Sudan v Djibouti (11.00 GMT), Sudan v Malawi(13:00 GMT)

Two top teams from each group, plus the best two third place finishers, will qualify into the quarter finals.

Semi-finals: Dec 3

Final:  Dec 5