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Cecafa Challenge Cup preview

25th November 2012
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Now that the Cecafa Challenge Cup has kicked off, all teams are doubtlessly raring to go in the competition, which is greatly respected across East and Central Africa sphere.

Indeed, although the tournament is not recognized by FIFA, it serves as an arena in which bragging rights, rivalry and prestige are all at stake for the competing teams on this grand regional stage of football.

In mainland, our hopes will rest on the Kilimanjaro Stars, who two years ago, were simply a cut above the opposition in this same championship on home soil.

One positive factor that will work in our favou is the fiercely competitive nature of the mainland premier league.

It is likely that the improving standard of our league will also make for a quality mainland side, affectionately dubbed ‘Kilimanjaro Sars’ by their legions of supporters.

However, to suggest that the Stars will easily trample all over their rivals would be pure folly.

The defending champions, Uganda Cranes, who recently came within a whisker of qualifying for the 2013 African Nations Cup in South Africa, will once again likely pose a formidable threat to the title ambitions of the Mainland side.

Harambee Stars of Kenya, now in the capable hands of their new, much-traveled Gallic coach Henri Michel should also be in the running for the highly coveted regional title.

The Amavubi of Rwanda too, with the diminutive Haruna Niyonzima pulling the strings in the midfield, will also fancy their chances for the title.

In other news related to this premier event, Cecafa definitely deserves lavish praise for the fact that the Confederation of African Football (CAF) President, Issa Hayatou, was expected to grace the opening ceremony of the of the championship this weekend.

Nevertheless, while this is admittedly an enormous coup for regional football, one hopes that the Cecafa bosses used the visit of the CAF supremo to lobby him to put in a good word for the tournament with his colleagues at FIFA.

And by this, I mean FIFA recognition. It is hoped that such an opportunity was not squandered by the top officials at the helm of Cecafa.

Lloyd Elipokea is a sports commentator

SOURCE: GUARDIAN ON SUNDAY