Cecafa reject Malawi, Zambia request

Al-Amoudi, a very wealthy business magnet, who bankrolls the East African showcase to the tune of over US$ 750 000, (about R5,2 million) made the suggestion when he met the Cecafa brass recently.

Cecafa’s general secretary Nicholas Musonye said in a telephone interview with the Southern Times from Addis Ababa that the tycoon’s request was shot down at a Cecafa general assembly held on the sidelines of the Cecafa tournament where the two Southern African teams performed.

“The issue was tabled in passing during our meeting and the bulk of the delegates felt it would be unnecessary to lure Malawi and Zambia into rejoining Cecafa.

“It was also felt that taking that course would bring unnecessary confusion with our southern African brothers Cosafa, which would be detrimental to the development of the game on the continent. So the suggestion was shot down,” said Musonye. The tournament ends today.

However, Musonye said the meeting agreed that Cecafa should continue inviting strong African countries from Cosafa region to participate as guest teams.

As such, South Africa’s Bafana Bafana and the Blacks Stars of Ghana will be invited to the 31st Al Moudi Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup next year.

The Cecafa spokesman also brushed aside suggestions that Malawi and Zambia were invited to take part in the tournament as a first step towards luring them into rejoining the association.

“I already made this point clear that the reason why we asked for their participation was to try and raise the standards at the annual event.

“We want our teams to face tough opposition and also raise the standard of the sport in our region, and as I said, next year we’ll be inviting Ghana and Nigeria.”

He added: “I am sure you will agree with me that at the moment the standard of football in East Africa is the worst on the continent and that is why we are trying to come up with ideas on how to improve the game in our region,” said Musonye.

The official reasoned that the Cosafa Castle Lager Cup was more competitive that the Cecafa event in many ways, and therefore very important for the region to have guest teams from Southern and West Africa to bring in a certain.

Zambia and Malawi never made intentions of joining the East African tournament but the Southern Times rightfully exposed Al Moudi’s wish to entice the two countries from Cosafa, first by inviting them to this year’s challenge cup.

The two Cosafa flag bearers both made their stakes clear when the reached the quarter finals of the tournament.

The Malawi Flames had received a 2-1 shock from Tanzania’s youthful team in their second game, having beaten Djibouti 3-1 in their opening game, while the Cosafa Castle Lager champions Zambia had received a rude welcome, going down 3-2 to Burundi.

After going down to Tanzania, The Flames walloped Ethiopia’s Walya Antelopes (1-0), and sneaked through to the last eight having finished third in their four team group. Malawi faced Uganda’s Cranes in the quarterfinals while Zambia received their quarter final ticket after beating eating Zanzibar 4-0 in a Group B encounter. They will take on hosts Ethiopia Tuesday in a potentially explosive contest.

The Cecafa tournament is the continent’s oldest national team competition although it has been played under various names since 1926. The semi-finals were played last Friday and the finals are set for today.

December 2006
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