Musonye challenges ‘less committed’ CECAFA members

Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) Secretary General Nicholas Musonye is happy the 40th edition of the championship finally took off on Saturday, despite a myriad of challenges the organisers have faced in the preparations.

From lack of sponsorship, withdrawal of teams from the competition to problem with venues; the organizing committee had to overcome all the setbacks to deliver what could be Musonye’s last competition as the SG.

Speaking to Citizen Digital at the KCCA Stadium Lugogo, Kampala where the two opening matches of the 2019 fiesta were staged, Musonye underscored the need for jealously guarding the oldest competition in the region.

“I’m happy for the massive support by the organizing committee. They have really worked hard to ensure we are started. The key issue is keeping these competitions. Without them there is no CECAFA. These competitions are the best for grooming players for international platforms. If we have to sustain the progress we have witnessed recently in the teams of this zone, we cannot afford to joke with the competitions in our annual calendars,” told the veteran football administrator.

He was not kind at all to the members who are not in the competition, saying they have not accorded the tournament the respect it deserves.

“Congo are not members so they can withdraw as they wish. I understand South Sudan, but Ethiopia have always done this. They don’t want to compete, that’s why they have not won the Senior Challenge for a long time. If they don’t want to play others are playing. The question is to whose disadvantage do they skip?”

Ethiopia withdrew from this year’s competition the last minute, forcing reorganisation of fixtures including their eagerly awaited match against Eritrea, in what would have been their first paring since the resumption of diplomatic ties this year.

Rwanda withdrew as well, though earlier, as South Sudan and invitees DR Congo did, leaving nine teams to fight for the regional glory.

“Today (Saturday) we had a challenge of heavy rains that are being experienced in Uganda this season. The stadium was busy from morning with some other competition, yet we Djibouti and Somalia have treated us to a very exciting match despite the downpour. We are expecting a smother flow going forward,” he noted.

The KCCA stadium will host all the matches, with the artificial turf helping curb the challenge that would come with hosting many matches in a natural grass field, during the long rains season.

Meanwhile, hosts Uganda beat Burundi 2-1 to launch their title quest in style, while Somalia and Djibouti settled for a 0-0 draw in the opening match.

On Sunday, Champions Kenya will lock horns with Tanzania in the match number four of the tournament.