NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 29- The CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup Local organizing Committee (LOC) has picked the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos as a tentative host for Group A matches over Kisumu’s Moi Stadium after what it termed as concerns from teams due to the current political situation in the country.
The Moi Stadium and Kakamega’s Bukhungu Stadium, one hour drive between each other had been chosen to host the two-week long regional tournament with Machakos, Kasarani, Mumias and Afraha in Nakuru put on stand-by as alternate venues.
“There have been concerns from teams about Kisumu with the political situation in mind, but we are still monitoring the situation. At the moment, we will have Group A matches in Machakos but in the event we are convinced Kisumu is viable then we will have the matches there,” the Federation’s communication chief Barry Otieno said.
LOC boss Herbart Mwachiro confirmed as much adding there were no ulterior motives in the venue switch.
Kenyatta Stadium will host Group A matches involving hosts Kenya, Rwanda, guest team Libya, Tanzania, and Zanzibar while the newly refurbished Bukhungu Stadium will host Group B games which will consist of defending champions Uganda invited side Zimbabwe, Burundi, Ethiopia and South Sudan.
-Harambee Stars blow-
Harambee Stars have suffered yet another set back after Ulinzi Stars left-back Omar Mbongi withdrew from the team that is in camp due to illness.
Mbongi has been replaced by Sofapaka’s Wesley Onguso who becomes the third player to be added into the squad that was named on Wednesday last week.
The Gor Mahia pair of defender Harun Shakava and midfielder Kenneth Muguna were also ruled out of the tournament with Zoo Kericho’s Isaac Kipyegon and Thika United’s Brian Tsuma called up as their replacements respectively.
Meanwhile, Burundi will be the first team arriving for the tournament with the side expected to touch down at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 11:25pm EAT on Wednesday night.
Ethiopia are expected to jet in on Thursday morning with Tanzania coming in the afternoon while Libya, Rwanda and Uganda arrive on Saturday. Uganda will travel by road and will head straight to Kakamega.
The matches, starting with the opener between hosts Kenya and Rwanda will be beamed live by Tanzanian broadcasters Azam who penned a two year deal with CECAFA.
At the same time, former AFC Leopards winger Allan Katterega who was shipped out on loan to Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) in June will headline a strong Uganda Cranes squad travelling for title defense.
Katterega has rediscovered his form with the Ugandan champions and his form has seen him earn selection in coach Moses Basenna’s squad, largely comprised of local based players. The only player playing outside Uganda picked is Simba SC defender Muurshid Juuko.
However, the squad has a few experienced faces with the likes of Nicholas Wadada from Vipers, KCCA’s Isaac Muleme and Derrick Nsibambi as well as Proline FC’s Savio Kabugo.
Tanzania mainland have as well named a relatively strong squad for the tournament to be led by coach Ammy Ninje. Head coach Salum Mayanja will be in the country as well watching both teams from the republic, the Mainland side Kilimanjaro Stars and Zanzibar.
Among the familiar CECAFA faces in the squad include keeper Aishi Manula, defenders Kevin Yondani and Erasto Nyoni, midfielder Himid Mao and striker Elias Maguli.