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Ulinzi to represent Kenya in CECAFA Nile Basin tournament

Ulinzi Stars players celebrating after scoring against Muhoroni Youth in SPL match.PHOTO/Tiomothy Olobulu

Ulinzi Stars players celebrating after scoring against Muhoroni Youth in SPL match.PHOTO/Tiomothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, April 7- Four-time SportPesa Premier League champions Ulinzi Stars will represent Kenya in the second edition of the CECAFA Nile Basin tournament to be hosted in Sudan from May 22 to June 5.

The tournament which involves teams that finished runners-up in their domestic leagues across the 12 members of CECAFA, is a second tier competition of the Kagame Cup.

“The government of Sudan will fully sponsor the tournament in Khartoum and everything is in place. We have tied up all the loose ends and we are looking to have a great competition. It was unfortunate we could not hold it last year because we had so many things we were working on,” CECAFA secretary general Nicholas Musonye revealed to Capital Sport.

“The purpose of these competitions is to make football better in our region. CECAFA is not usually well represented in continental tournaments both at club and national team level and such tournaments give the countries an opportunity to be better,” Musonye added.

Ulinzi Stars earned the slot after having a good run last year, where they finished second behind unbeaten champions Gor Mahia.

“We have received the invitation letter from CECAFA and we are pleased to earn that slot. We will represent our country well,” Ulinzi Stars CEO Major Joel Birgen said.

Ulinzi will be returning to regional football for the first time since 2011 when they reached the quarter finals of the Kagame Cup, losing on post-match penalties to Sudan’s El Mereikh.

Musonye confirmed two teams will be invited to compete as guest teams with Sudan and DR Congo likely to be given the slots.

“We have written to Sudan and DR Congo Federations to give us two teams for the tournament to add on the 12 from our region but they are yet to respond.”

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The prize money structure for the Nile basin tourney will be similar to the Kagame Cup where winner take home Sh3million ($30,000), runners-up receives Sh2million ($20,000) while third placed will pocket Sh1million ($10,000).

Uganda’s Victoria University are the defending champions after beating Kenya’s AFC Leopards 2-1 in the 2014 final.

Meanwhile, Tanzania has been put on standby to host this year’s Kagame Cup that is slated for July.

Zanzibar was given the hosting rights but Musonye said they are yet to inspect the island city to find out if all the facilities are in place.

“Zanzibar has elections next week and after that we will assess the situation and decide whether or not the games will go to Zanzibar.

We have put Tanzania on standby just in case. We are also talking to sponsors not only for the Kagame Cup but the Senior Challenge that will be held in Sudan,” Musonye declared.

CECAFA had also put across proposals to have an Under-20 and women tournament but it’s yet to be effected.

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