Weeks after Uganda’s U15 national team cruised to the inaugural Cecafa Championship in Eritrea, and over a month after KCCA clinched the senior club title in Rwanda, the East Africans begin yet another quest this weekend.
It is now the U20 boys with the chance to shine in their age-group version of Cecafa, which will be hosted in the east at Njeru Technical Centre and north at Pece Stadium.
The tournament, which has 11 confirmed competitors, kicks off on Saturday with hosts Uganda facing Eritrea and South Sudan sweating it out with Djibouti.
Uganda’s U20 side, the Hippos, continue preparing for the championship and - without some of their stars that were away with KCCA and Proline on the continent, put seven past a Busoga United Select team on Sunday.
That shift has given Hippos coaches more reason to look forward to an event they will be expected to win on home soil.
“It was a nice exhibition from the boys,” said Hippos assistant coach Hamzah Lutalo, who took charge of the team as his boss Morley Byekwaso, was away on continental duty with KCCA.
“I am delighted that the boys are putting into action what we have been practicing.
“Scoring goals has been one of our challenges and step by step we are overcoming it. If we continue this way, we shall go places.”
Sadam Masereka helped himself to a hattrick in the game played at the technical centre in Njeru. Charles Lwanga, Najib Yiga, Ivan Asaba and Said Mayanja scored the rest.
Out of Njeru, Local Organising Committee chairperson Darius Mugoye has made a passionate case for Pece in Gulu hosting the major stages of the tournament.
“Gulu was chosen after the passion expressed by a mammoth (crowd) of fans who turn up for Fufa Drum matches,” told the media at the weekend.
Pece will host the opening match, semis and final. Conspicuously absent at the championship will be neighbours Rwanda. Cecafa Secretary General Nicholas Musonye, who thanked Caf and Fifa for commiting to support them with youth and women football development, explained their absence.
“Rwanda will miss this tournament due the several engagements, hence the budget can’t enable them to participate in the tournament,” he said. There are two groups of four teams (A and B) and one of three (C), with three teams from A and B each, and two from C qualifying for the quarterfinals.
Cecafa U-20 Challenge Cup Uganda 2019
Saturday, September 21 – October 5
Venues: Pece War Memorial Stadium, Gulu & Fufa Technical Centre, Njeru Pools
Group A: Uganda, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti
Group B: Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Zanzibar
Group C: Burundi, S. Sudan, Somalia
South Sudan vs Djibouti, 2pm
Uganda vs Eritrea, 4pm
Weekend practice match result
Uganda U20 7-0 Busoga United (Select)