TP Mazembe test for Villa ahead of Caf

SC Villa celebrate winning the StarTimes Uganda Premier League. PHOTOS/EDDIE CHICCO 

What you need to know:

SC Villa won the StarTimes Uganda Premier League this year after

SC Villa will hope to get a better preparation than their arch-rivals Express did in 2021 when they descend to Tanzania and Zanzibar for the Cecafa Kagame Cup.

Cecafa has announced that five-time African champions TP Mazembe will take part in this year’s edition that has been brought forward to July 6-22.

New Malawi and Zambian champions Nyasa Big Bullets and Red Arrows are the other two sides that have been invited.

Initially, the Kagame Cup that is returning for the first time since 2021, was set for July 20 to August 4 but the regional body has brought it forward to avoid clashing with the Caf Champions League and Confederations Cup. The Caf interclub competitions kick off on August 16.

“This competition will help our teams in the Zone prepare better in the pre-season ahead of the 2024/2025 CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup which start in August,” Cecafa executive director Auka Gecheo noted.

He added: “Having top sides from DR Congo, Malawi and Zambia will also spice-up our Club competition and give our teams a real test.” 

SC Villa fans will see their club return to the regional stage. 

The change in calendar pushes the Senior Challenge Cup to a later date from the original June 29 kickoff.

Express beat Nyasa Bullets to win the last edition in 2021 but will not be available to defend their crown. Villa returns to the Cecafa stage after 19 years when they last won it in 2005. The Jogoos have won the competition three times including the previous two in 1987 and 2003.

Sudanese giants El Merreikh and Al Hilal are also returning after a decade while the co-hosts Tanzania will field four teams Yanga, Simba, Azam and Coastal Union.

The other regional national champions that have confirmed participation include Vital ‘O (Burundi), APR (Rwanda), Gor Mahia (Kenya), JKU SC (Zanzibar) and El Merreikh FC-Bentiu (South Sudan).

Cecafa Kagame Cup 2024

Dates: July 6-22

Hosts: Tanzania and Zanzibar

Confirmed teams - SC Villa (Uganda), Vital ‘O (Burundi), APR (Rwanda), El Merreikh, Al Hilal, Hai El Wadi (Sudan), Young Africans, Simba, Azam, Coastal Union (Tanzania), Gor Mahia (Kenya), JKU (Zanzibar), El Merreikh Bentiu (South Sudan), Nyasa Big Bullets (Malawi), TP Mazembe (DR Congo) and Red Arrows (Zambia).