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More talk, than action, as time runs out on Cecafa clubs on Africa preps

THE test of whether East and Central African football is heading in the direction comes when teams from the region enter the fray of continental football. Another one is round the corner; the CAF (African Football Confederation) Champions League and the Confederation Cup, even before domestic leagues have started or warmed up.

The national teams of the Cecafa (Council of East and Central African Football Associations) were hastily bundled out of the recently concluded AFCON (Africa Cup of Nations) in Egypt; Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi failing to get off the 24-team Group Stage and Uganda doing no better and being bundled out in the round-of-16 by the same Senegal (finalist) team that had tormented Kenya and Tanzania in Group ‘C’.

Top: Uganda’s Kampala Capital City Authority team that lifted the 2019 Cecafa Kagame Cup trophy in Kigali, Rwanda last Sunday. Above: Defending champions Azam of Tanzania defend against KCCA but in futility; the Ugandans won 1-0 to snatch the regional trophy

Top: Uganda’s Kampala Capital City Authority team that lifted the 2019 Cecafa Kagame Cup trophy in Kigali, Rwanda last Sunday. Above: Defending champions Azam of Tanzania defend against KCCA but in futility; the Ugandans won 1-0 to snatch the regional trophy

On evidence from matches at the AFCON, say, against Algeria (title winners) and Senegal (runners-up), the Cecafa region soccer was exposed as grossly backward. As usual, the fallback is the mandarins who administer the game “going back to the drawing board” and fix the problem.

They do not shy about their inadequacy. Officials from the region aspire and dare to sit on soccer leadership of CAF. The fight for these positions draws more energy from them than that expended in improving performance of the regional teams at all levels.

Trevor Ombija of Gor Mahia makes a header during the Cecafa Kagame Cup in Rwanda

Trevor Ombija of Gor Mahia makes a header during the Cecafa Kagame Cup in Rwanda

In the forthcoming CAF club’s competitions countries like Djibouti cannot even raise an entry. Yet, in Africa soccer politics, Djibouti leadership makes more noise, covers more distance and expends more funds in quest for influence at CAF and Fifa institutions. Djibouti has nothing or little to show for a load of financial, material and personnel support for their game routinely received from CAF, UEFA or Fifa. Football is also either non-existent, in confusion or in struggle in Eritrea, Somalia and South Sudan.

If football association (FA) and club officials, coaches and players do not get their act together immediately, the Cecafa foray in the oncoming Champions League and CAF Confed Cup fiesta could be dead on its tracks; before it has even warmed up.

Gor Mahia coach Oktay Hassan watches his team going down to Green Eagles of Zambia in the 2019 Cecafa Kagame Cup in Rwanda. He has about a couple of weeks to sharpen his team for the CAF Champions League opener against Aigle Noir Makamba of Burundi

Gor Mahi coach Hassan Oktay watches his team going down to Green Eagles of Zambia in the 2019 Cecafa Kagame Cup in Rwanda. He has about a couple of weeks to sharpen his team for the CAF Champions League opener against Aigle Noir Makamba of Burundi

Preliminary matches are on 9-11 August and 23-25 August. The following Round Two matches will be 13-15 September and 27-29 September. In very intriguing match-ups, Cecafa teams have an uphill task even in the Preliminary Round; and those that make it through have a daunting task in Round Two, where a possible “white wash” [total elimination] threatens.

Ignore the Champions League Preliminary Round and envision this Round Two scenario:

ROUND TWO:

(Possibles)

*Gor Mahia (KEN) v Union sportive de la médina d’Alger – USMA (Algeria)

*Young Africans (TAN) v Zesco United (Zambia)

*KCCA (UGA) v Atlético Petróleos  (Angola)

*Rayon Sports (RWA) or *Al Hilal (SUD) v Enyimba (Nigeria)

*Al Merreikh (SUD) v  Stade Malien (MAL) or Horoya (GUI)

*Simba (TAN) v FC Platinum (Zimbabwe)

*(Cecafa teams)

Al Hilal of Sudan, routinely in the CAF Champions League with city (Omdurman) arch rivals El Merreikh

Al Hilal of Sudan, routinely in the CAF Champions League with city (Omdurman) arch rivals El Merreikh

Above are very tough ties for these Cecafa clubs indeed and total elimination cannot be ruled out; even among the more evenly matched ties such as KCCA v Atletico Petroleos (Angola) and Simba v Platinum (Zimbabwe).

And all this is assuming that the Cecafa flag bearers will have gone through the Preliminary Round where, for example some have a tough task; e.g. Rayon Sports v Al Hilal; Young Africans v Township Rollers (Botswana).

At the recent Cecafa Kagame Cup Club Championship in Rwanda after Kenya Champions League Gor Mahia were eliminated by Zambia’s Green Eagles, Gor coach Oktay Hassan alluded to that he did not take the tournament seriously; using it as a pre-season test.

Another past goal for El Merreikh by Kenya international striker Allan Wanga (right)

Another past goal for El Merreikh by Kenya international striker Allan Wanga (right)

Perhaps instead of grabbing the chance for a serious polish-up for his season’s starting X1, the Gor Mahia man lost a great opportunity. He has barely three weeks to have a fully tuned side to face Burundi champions Aigle Noir Makamba and pen his campaign in the CAF competition.

The new Kenyan Premier League [KPL] season won’t start until Aug 30 and Gor Mahia, as well as Bandari in the CAF Confed Cup, will not have had a useful league test before their engagement in Africa. Bandari, participants in the recent Kagame Cup, seem to have had a better attitude, giving the event seriousness and they should reap the benefits.

Simba, after a fairly good run in last season's CAF competition, are back this year

Simba, after a fairly good run in last season’s CAF competition, are back this year

Meanwhile the actual interrogation of status of the regional football continues and club and national teams’ results ought to spell out the answer. Elsewhere in the region, on the administration front of the sport, it appears like following the script of turbulence; men and women mired in circumstances of fraud, corruption and sex abuse allegations at CAF headquarters.

Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) features in alleged illegal payments by a CAF official and the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) secretary general has left office to allow investigation over alleged ‘shady’ transfer dealing of a player. The dirty side of football administration as in Africa and the rest of the world is not absent in the Cecafa region. Some of the officials still walk in the region under the shadow of old accusation of illegal touting of 2014 Fifa World Cup tickets allocation.

Young Africans of Dar es Salaam, also back in the Champions League

Young Africans of Dar es Salaam, also back in the Champions League

Expelled from regional football administration in recent times either by Fifa or domestic law authorities include the immediate past head of TFF, Jamal Malinzi and several accomplices in the federation and club set-up and South Sudan Football Association head Chabur Alei Ngoc.

The club standard in the Cecafa region remains somewhat static. Continental strength is on one hand measured by the double allocation for participation in the premier Champions League where the leaders are: Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Angola, DR Congo, Guinea and Zambia.

In the Cecafa region, Sudan a unique case routinely has two teams in the Champions League (this time again Al Hilal and El Merreikh) and the rare exception is Tanzania being represented also by two sides — Simba and Young Africans.

TEAMS FOR 2019/20 CAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE:

1 JS Kabylie (ALG)

2 USMA (ALG)

3 Desportivo de 1 Agosto (ANG)

4 Atlético Petróleos de Luanda (ANG)

5 Buffles du Borgou (BEN)

6 Township Rollers (BOT)

7 RAHIMO FC (BFA)

8 Aigle Noir CS (BUR)

9 USM de Loum (CMR)

10 AS Tempête MOCAF (RCA)

11 Elect Sport (CHD)

12 Fomboni FC de Moheli (COM)

13 AS Otoho d’Oyo (CON)

14 TP Mazembe (DRC)

15 AS Vita Club (DRC)

16 Côte d’Ivoire Omnisport de l’Armée (CIV)

17 EGY1 (winner of Egyptian League)

18 EGY2 (2nd team of Egypt)

19 Cano Sport Academy (EQG)

20 Green Mamba (ESW)

21 Mekelle 70 Enderta (ETH)

22 AO (Association Omnisport) Center Mberi Sportif (GAB)

23 Brikama United (GAM)

24 Asante Kotoko (GHA)

25 Hafia Conakry (GUI)

26 Horoya (GUI)

27 Gor Mahia (KEN)

28 Matlama (LES)

29 LPRC Oilers (LBR)

30 El Nasr (LBY)

31 Fosa Juniors (MAD)

32 Nyasa Big Bullets (MLW)

33 Stade Malien (MAL)

34 FC Nouadhibou (MRT)

35 Pamplemousses SC (MAU)

36 Raja Casablanca (MOR)

37 WAC (MOR)

38 UD do Songo (MOZ)

39 African Stars (NAM)

40 SONIDEP (NIG)

41 Enyimba (NGR)

42 Kano Pillars (NGR)

43 Rayon Sports (RWA)

44 Generation Foot (SEN)

45 Cote d’Or FC (SEY)

46 Dekadaha (SOM)

47 Orlando Pirates (RSA)

48 Mamelodi Sundowns (RSA)

49 Atlabara (SSD)

50 Al Hilal (SUD)

51 El Merreikh (SUD)

52 Simba Sports (TAN)

53 Young Africans (TAN)

54 ASKO de Kara (TOG)

55 Esperance Sportive du Tunis (TUN)

56 Etoile Sportive du Sahel (TUN)

57 KCCA (UGA)

58 Zesco United (ZAM)

59 Green Eagles (ZAM)

60 KMKM (ZNZ)

61 FC Platinum (ZIM)

2019 CAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

FIXTURES:

Preliminary round:

Team 1 Agg. Team 2 1st leg 2nd leg
Brikama United 1 Raja Casablanca 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
AS Tempête Mocaf 2 Al-Nasr 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
JS Kabylie 3 Al-Merreikh 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
Stade Malien 4 Horoya 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
Les Buffles FC du Borgou 5 ASCK de Kara 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
UMS de Loum 6 AS Vita Club 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
Rayon Sports 7 Al-Hilal 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
Rahimo 8 Enyimba International 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
AS SONIDEP 9 USM Alger 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
Aigle Noir Makamba 10 Gor Mahia 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
Atlabara 11 Egyptian league champion 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
Cano Sport 12 Mekelle 70 Enderta 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
Dekedaha 13 Egyptian league runner-up 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
LPRC Oilers 14 Génération Foot 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
Hafia 15 Étoile Sportive du Sahel 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
Kano Pillars 16 Asante Kotoko 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
African Stars 17 Kampala Capital City Authority 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
Matlama 18 Atlético Petróleos 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
Fomboni 19 Côte d’Or 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
AS Otôho 20 Mamelodi Sundowns. 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
SO de l’Armée 21 Nouadhibou 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
Cercle Mbéri Sportif 22 Elect-Sport 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
Green Mamba 23 ZESCO United 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
Young Africans 24 Township Rollers 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
Big Bullets 25 FC Platinum 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
UD Songo 26 Simba 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
KMKM 27 C.D. Primeiro de Agosto 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
Green Eagles 28 Orlando Pirates 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug
Fosa Juniors 29 Pamplemousses 9–11 Aug 23–25 Aug

Additional reporting by Correspondents and Agencies

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