The two-time Africa Nations Championships (CHAN) holders were set to compete for the first time in the regional football tournament as a guest team after 10 years.
They were pooled alongside Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia in Group B of the tournament that kicks off in Uganda on Saturday.
According to multiple media reports from Democratic Republic of Congo, the country’s government declined to finance the Leopards trip to Uganda forcing the team’s withdrawal.
CECAFA Secretary General, Nicholas Musonye, had said they had allowed DR Congo to return to the tournament in the absence of Rwanda and also to increase competition.
On Monday, Ethiopia had also confirmed its withdrawal from the tournament due to lack of finance. However, the Ethiopian Federation (EFF) did not forward any reason for decision.
The EFF has also confirmed that it will not be part of the CECAFA U-17 Women Challenge Cup that is also hosted in Uganda.
The Walya Antelopes, as the Ethiopian national team is known, were meant to face Uganda, Eritrea and Burundi in Group A of the tournament.
Rwanda was the first country to pull out of this year’s edition of CECAFA Senior Challenge cup for what was cited as lack of budget.
Besides the senior team’s withdrawal, Rwanda has also this year missed the CECAFA U-20 Cup held in Uganda and CECAFA Senior Women Challenge Cup hosted in Dar es Salaam.
Ethiopia and DR Congo withdrawal has reduced the number of participating teams to ten which might force the CECAFA Local Organizing Committee to revise the fixtures.
CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup which is widely considered as the oldest football tournament in Africa was not held last year.
The tournament’s future is, moreover, increasingly in doubt as member states call for its improvement while others are questioning its relevancy in light of several developments including CHAN, expansion of inter-club competition and change in football calendars.
Senior Challenge Cup 2019 groups:
Group A: Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Eritrea
Group B: DR Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia
Group C: Kenya (defending champions), Mainland Tanzania, Burundi, Djibouti.
The top two teams from each group and the best two losers will qualify for the quarter-finals.