Taifa Stars' participation in Challenge Cup set to disrupt VPL fixture

03Nov 2017
Joseph Mchekadona
The Guardian
Taifa Stars' participation in Challenge Cup set to disrupt VPL fixture

SENIOR National soccer team 'Taifa Stars' particitipation in this year's Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) Challenge Cup is set to disrupt the ongoing Mainland Premier League fixture.

Taifa Stars' players warm up shortly before the qualifiers for the 2019 African Cup of Nations finals gainst Lesotho at the Azam Complex in Dar es Salaam recently. (Photo: Correspondent)

This year's Challenge  Cup will take place for 15 days from November 25 to December 9 in Kenya and, since the event falls outside the FIFA international break, Tanzania is to be represented by locally based players in the tournament.

The initial 2017/18 Mainland Premier League fixture, which was released by Tanzania Football Federation (TFF), indicated that they will be matches in the days of CECAFA games.

Mainland Premier League matches which are likely to be affected by the CECAFA Challenge Cup games are those from 11th to 13th rounds.

According to the league's fixture, round 11 games involve games between Ndanda FC against Njombe Mji, Kagera against Stand United, Mbao FC against Mwadui FC,Ruvu vs Majimaji.

In other matches, Singida United will play Mbeya City FC, Yanga have a date against Prisons, Simba SC will confront Lipuli FC and Azam FC will face Mtibwa Sugar.

Round 12 games will see Azam FC confront Stand United, Lipuli play Prisons, Mbeya City play Kagera Sugar, Mtibwa Sugar play Maji Maji FC, , Ndanda FC face Simba, Njombe Mji confront Singida United, Mbao FC play Yanga and Mwadui FC play Ruvu Shooting.

In round 13 games, Maji Maji will entertain Azam FC, Lipuli will play Mtibwa Sugar, Ndanda will host Mbao FC, Stand United will play Ruvu Shooting, Prisons will play Mbeya City, Yanga will entertain Mwadui FC, Simba play Singida United and Njombe Mji will be at home to Kagera Sugar.

TFF Acting Secretary General, Wilfred Kidao, confirmed that the fixture will be disrupted but defended the move, saying the federation is not sure the CECAFA Challenge Cup will take this year.

He said after a two-year absence of the regional tournament, TFF is of the view that the event might also not take place this year.

"We have no choice but come up with a new fixture as from November 25 to December 9 many players will be with the national team in Kenya for CECAFA Challenge Cup games," he said.

Tanzania Premier League Board (TPLB) Chief Executive Officer, Boniface Wambura, had similar views on the issue, in which he said changes in the league's fixture at this stage is unavoidable.

However, the situation raises questions on communication between CECAFA and TFF.

The CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup brings together all senior national teams of the 13 member countries.

Uganda are the current champions, having won a record 14th title in Addis Ababa in December, 2015 after beating Rwanda 1-0 in the final.