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‘Backward leaders’ bane of regional soccer, says outgoing chief as Uganda lift Challenge Cup

  • Sudan to host next Challenge Cup
  • Uganda beat Eritrea to lift this year’s title
  • Eritrea whipping Kenya has been achieved before

THE next Cecafa Challenge Cup will be held in Sudan, home of the outgoing President of the organisation, Mutasim Gafar, who has just been replaced by Wallace Karia of Tanzania at the ongoing edition of the competition in Kampala, Uganda.

Delegates to the Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa) meeting in Uganda, voted to replace Mutasim, who since the election at another meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (December 2015) received little or no support from a majority of the regional football associations and his leadership account largely read ‘failure’.

Top, and all pictures, Uganda Cranes (red) and Eritrea battle it out at Lugogo Stadium, Kampala on Thursday during the final of the 2019 Cecafa Challenge Cup

Top, and all pictures, Uganda Cranes (red) and Eritrea battle it out at Lugogo Stadium, Kampala on Thursday during the final of the 2019 Cecafa Challenge Cup

Mutasim’s country, Sudan, showed indifference to him, the Sudan Football Association, failing to host Cecafa tournaments since then. Ironically, among those who openly jeered at Mutasim’s election in Addis was the then Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) head, Jamal Malinzi.

The current TFF boss, Karia, Malinzi’s successor, will now be hoping that the Sudan FA play ball to make his Cecafa tenure a success, starting with availing their country to stage the Challenge Cup.

Routinely the regional FA heads come out very active in election time. This year’s irony is South Sudan FA head Francis Amin and Ethiopia failing to send teams to the Challenge Cup claiming lack of necessary finance but the Amin and Ethiopia’s Essayas Jiro flying to Kampala to present themselves for elections. Both were picked as Karia’s first and second assistants.

After 20 years at the helm, Nicholas Musonye of Kenya stepped down as Cecafa secretary-general in the Kampala on Wednesday and said during his tenure the organisation’s frequent problem was “sabotage by backward minded federation leaders.”

He said: “Sometimes we endured difficult times in Cecafa — it was all about backward minded leaders in our federations. You know those people who personalised issues at the expense of football. I’m happy they are not there in our federations now.”

One of the recent exits from regional leadership was TFF’s Malinzi who faced almost two years in jail pending hearing of 20 corruption charges against him including embezzlement and money-laundering but was found guilty of document forgery. A judge ordered Malinzi to pay a fine of approximately $220 or serve a two-year jail term.

Meanwhile, Uganda beat Eritrea on Thursday 3-0 to lift this year’s Challenge Cup at Lugogo Stadium. Bright Anukani, Mustafa Kizza and Joel Madondo scored for the Cranes.

Defending champions (last edition held in 2017) Kenya were bundled out (4-1) of the tournament by Eritrea causing those with poor memory to think it was the first such a drabbing of Kenya by so-called “minnows”.

Indeed, it was not. There was a precedent, one which one of Kenya’s past Cecafa championships’ winning coach, Jacob “Ghost” Mulee can recall. Mulee was Kenya’s assistant coach to Frenchman Bernard Lama when Eritrea beat Kenya home (2-1, September 2, 2006) and away (1-0, June 16, 2008) in the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

-Additional reporting by Correspondents

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