NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 30- The Local organizing Committee (LOC) for this year’s CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup has assured that preparations for the tournament are in top gear and the embarrassing scenarios witnessed in 2013 during the same tournament in Nairobi will not be repeated.
When Kenya last hosted the tournament three years ago, teams were detained in hotels over unpaid bills with the final being delayed for over two hours after Sudan were detained in their hotel as they left for the stadium over unpaid expenditures.
CECAFA Secretary General Nicholas Musonye is confident that all plans are in tip top shape ahead of the tournament which kicks-off on Sunday afternoon with the opening ceremony set for the Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega.
“We are working as a unit; the Local organizing Committee, FKF, counties and the government. Everything is in place and I want to assure you that this will be the best tournament we will organize. We are combining forces together with broadcast sponsors Azam as well and we will not have any budgetary shortcomings whatsoever,” Musonye noted.
Football Kenya Federation boss Nick Mwendwa admitted as much that the memories of 2013 still hang in their heads even though they were not in office, has assured they have put measures in place to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
“The big issue has always been about accommodation. We are working round the clock to ensure there are no problems and we are putting in a lot of work to make sure we will not have challenges. Of course there will be a few but we are committed for a successful tournament,” Mwendwa noted.
He added; “You will not hear a team stranded in hotels or training grounds or referees stranded anywhere. We have taken care of things.”
Burundi were the first team to arrive in Nairobi and trained on Thursday morning while Ethiopia’s Walya Antelopes arrived and flew straight to Eldoret from where they will travel by road to their match venue in Kakamega.
Tanzania arrive on Friday and will head straight to Machakos while Zanzibar will be travelling to the capital from Mombasa on the Madaraka Express train. Uganda travel by road and will connect to Kakamega from the Malaba border point.
-Musonye lashes Zimbabwe-
Meanwhile, Musonye has launched a tirade against Zimbabwe who pulled out of the tournament on Wednesday, despite earlier having confirmed participation. The Southern Africans cited security concerns around their exit.
“They should pull out and don’t talk about Kenya. They don’t know Kenya. What insecurity is there? League games have been played there and not a single incident has been seen. We didn’t even approach them to come. They were the ones who asked whether they can come and we thought because of the problems they have, let them come play football,” an angered Musonye said.
He went on to allege that there might be sabotage in the pull out but insists the tournament will go on even without them.
His sentiments were shared by FKF boss Nick Mwendwa who said they were hugely disappointed that Zimbabwe will not be available and insinuated they are expected CAF to serve sanctions on them.
“Before going for a tournament, you have to sign some documents with CAF and FIFA and failure to honor those tournaments after signing comes with some sanctions. We were ready and had prepared for them to come after the president confirmed to us in Sudan,” Mwendwa recounted.
At the same time, the Moi Stadium in Kisumu initially set to host Group A matches but struck off due to fears over the political climate might get at most three matches, depending on what the LOC will decide.
Mwendwa has hinted that one Kenyan game and another one from Group B might be played in Kisumu with the option of adding one of the two semi-final games.
Musonye has refuted claims that he ‘denied’ Kisumu a chance to host the tournament.
“That is not true. It is just propaganda. We work as a team and this decision was reached after vast consultation. So saying it is Musonye who denied them a chance is very untrue,” the seasoned football administrator and former sports journalist said.
The LOC has at the same time urged fans to turn out in large numbers with the gate charges for the tournament lowered. VIP tickets will retail at Sh400 while terrace tickets have been capped at Sh100.
“We wanted to make this tournament affordable for our people and we want to ask them to come out and support the tournament in large numbers,” Mwendwa said.