By Austin Oduor Otieno,
As the 41st Edition of the CECAFA Club Championship gets nearer for the kick off, it is important to note that it could even be more interesting if the other associations that were part of it in the 1970s and 1980s got back.
CECAFA previously had Zambia, Malawi, and Zimbabwe forming an interesting body with a stronger tournament, Re Union and Seychelles also joined before the Southern African countries forced themselves out to join COSAFA.
At COSAFA, though organizing a senior team Tournament, the Clubs are deprived of what they used to enjoy at the CECAFA.
Zambia and Zimbabwe withdrew voluntarily to join COSAFA but sadly enough, despite Malawi sticking with CECAFA they too found it unbearable as they withdrew its membership in 1994 in a more astonishing way. They sent their representative Silver Strikers to Khartoum and were even around a few days before the kick off only to be denied entrance by the then CECAFA secretary General James Tirop claiming they registered late. In the contrary, or Mahia who arrived later than the Malawians were not punished, Silver Strikers still stayed hoping to be re admitted but to no avail. This act prompted the Malawi FA to pull out of CECAFA joining Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Re Union too had their teams participating just like Seychelles.Re Union who had their first team JS St Pierroise topping their group on their maiden appearance in the 1997 edition losing to Kenya Breweries in the quarter finals are some of the Associations that not only added numbers but spiced up the tournament.
Today the Tournament which has attracted massive sponsorship and following boasts of 11 members, although Eritea did not enter a team.
I urge CECAFA secretary General Nicholas Musonye to use his influence to convince the said teams FA’s to come back and join CECAFA, as their addition is highly valuable.
Clubs like Bata Bullets, Limbe leaf (Malawi) Mufulira Wanderwers, Red Arrows, Green Eagles,Kabwe Warriors(Zambia)Rio Tinto of Zimbabwe were of added value before.
Today, by admitting back the Associations then clubs like Zesco United,Nkana,Zanaco(Zambia),Big Bullets, Mighty Be Forward Wanderers(Malawi),CAPS United, Dynamos (Zimbabwe)St Michel(Seychelles) etc would take the Kagame Cup to the ‘dream land’
With a Nicholas Musonye in that helm then all will be possible.
This year’s tournament is the 41st since its inception in 1974.
The writer will be in Dar es Salaam for exclusive coverage of the CECAFA Club Championships.
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