Soccer

Cecafa: Chan teams flattered to deceive

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Geoffrey ‘Baba’ Kizito evades a Tanzanian player during

Geoffrey ‘Baba’ Kizito evades a Tanzanian player during last year’s Cecafa tournament in Kampala. FILe PHoto 

By Andrew Mwanguhya

Posted  Thursday, December 12  2013 at  14:29
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NAIROBI- Uganda did not send Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic to Kenya with express orders to return with the unprecedented 14th Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup title or be fired; nor did Burundi - Lofty Mohammed or Ethiopia - Sewnet Bishaw.

It is also safe to argue that hosts Kenya did not place loosened rope around Adel Amrouche’s neck to win the Harambee Stars’ first regional title since 2002 or it gets tightened, although they expected him to at least make the last four.

Sudan will also tell you making the final is a bonus and pleasant surprise, not necessarily coach Mubarak Suliman’s earlier direct assignment; while Tanzania and Zambia, the other two teams to battle for a third place today, will have done enough not to surpass expectations back home.

Yet Micho was not expected to lead his team of dejected, nay ‘motivated’ on a $10 daily allowance, lot back to Entebbe Airport with a last eight feat to show for a country that has won the hitherto ‘copy-righted’ trophy four of the last five years.

Actually, Uganda even surprised the organisers, who apparently had to fork out an extra $45 on each of the 25-man contingent as charges for ticket changes. The organisers had booked in Cranes for up to at least the semifinals for they expected the deposed champions to stretch that far.

While I had my reservations over how far Cranes would go this year, a semifinal slot was not beyond our reach, and Micho’s boys could have achieved that had they shown more hunger and commitment when they had the momentum. A case in point is when they leveled scores with Tanzania, with the Kilimanjaro Stars ripe for the picking and at one man less.

That, though, is not to say Uganda, Burundi, and Ethiopia had a woeful tournament. They had some good moments in the group stages, the first two being ejected on the penalty lottery in the quarters, and Ethiopia – who brought here mainly their second and third rate team - displaying some of their new-found ‘tiki-taka’.
But these were teams using this Cecafa as tonic to January’s Africa Nations Championship (Chan), goes the tale.

If this was a measure of how good they are, going into South Africa a month from now, these three East-Central Zone representatives will have left with more questions than answers.

Micho himself will hope his perceived striking answer of Francis Olaki, who has recovered from injury, Frank Kalanda - left behind for dipped form, and Emmanuel Okwi – whose status over whether he is home-based or an Etoile du Sahel player is still unresolved; will turn out real answers. The Serb did not take any assured striker for Chan to Cecafa.

Ethiopia’s Bishaw will have under a month to teach his boys that football is played for 90 minutes, not 70, while Burundi’s Mohammed will be encouraged by his team’s relentlessness.

What cannot be escaped is that Chan representatives have flattered to deceive at Cecafa with none of them making the final four. Instead, we have Burundi’s Chan qualification double victims – Kenya and Sudan playing the final.

CHAN facts
The African Nations Championship (sometimes referred to as African Championship of Nations or Chan) is a football tournament which was first announced on 11 September 2007.
It is administered by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and is played between the best national teams of Africa, exclusively featuring players who are active in the national championships and qualified to play in the ongoing season. Expatriate players, regardless of where they play, even in Africa, may not qualify to take part in the African Championship of Nations.

Winners’ podium: Ttep forward She Cranes

A reader’s comment on UK Guardian newspaper’s tribute to Uganda’s national netball team, the She Cranes, for their latest feat detailed what all the Pearl of Africa’s sports problems are.

“Well done Uganda,” they posted, “I think they’re (Uganda) an excellent example about how perhaps unexpected countries could field very good teams internationally if only they could get some of their administrative issues sorted out.”

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