When SportPesa dances at CECAFA deathbed
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THE inaugural SportPesa Super Cup has already won handful admirers owing to the fan base of the teams vying the tournament’s pulsating cash prizes.

It has brought to Dar es Salaam the Kenyan traditional rivals Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards and Tusker FC besides renewing the usual Tanzanian Simba and Young Africans rivalry. The carefully planned tournament has as well involved the outside ring players such as Nakuru All Stars, Jang’ombe Boys and the upcoming threat Singida United.

Carrying the same colour and feeling, the tournament is almost a throwback to the mid 1970s East African Club Championship except Ugandan envoys. But what makes it better than East African Club Championship which later changed to Kagame Cup, is the package for every win and unusually for even the loser?

The tournament’s opening match between AFC Leopards and Singida United saw the winners pocketing 10m/-cash prize and the loser, Singida United getting 5m/- consolation prize. Simply the tournament adheres to the professionalism that in a simple language a team is paid for entertaining.

Though it didn’t go the way most Tanzania fans wished, but in future it is very likely to see the local giants Simba and Yanga meeting or the Kenya rivals; AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia locking horns. In short The SportPesa Super Cup is a football competition created and sponsored by bookmakers SportPesa with all its matches taking place at Uhuru Stadium.

The tournament’s inaugural edition has drawn eight-teams playing in knockout format. Apart from staging the football tournament for its East African teams, the firm also sponsors six of the participating teams, Gor Mahia FC, AFC Leopards SC and Nakuru AllStars FC from Kenya and Yanga SC, Simba SC and Singida United FC from Tanzania.

The winner of the 2017 SportPesa Super Cup will also get a chance to play against the English Premier League giants, Everton FC on July 13 this year.

During the visit by the EPL side to East Africa for the first time, Everton will play one of the teams that emerges the winner of the tournament as part of their agreement with bookmaker SportPesa to develop football in East Africa.

Starting tournaments like The Sportpesa Super Cup comes and all others designed to gather the best East African prospects together in a simple word, ridicules the now wingless Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA).

CECAFA under Nicholas Musonye has just gone into obscurity since last seen in 2015. CECAFA, who the past five decades, kept the regional football rolling, seems to have ducked out of sight alongside its club and national team competitions.

The absence of the tournament and inactivity of CECAFA make the East Africa’s club champions, Azam FC to remain with the trophy for more than two seasons the same as Uganda Cranes who have remained East African Senior Challenge Cup title since 2015.

CECAFA’s brave soldier, Musonye who has been fighting to rescue many tournaments seems to have given up and opted to duck out of sight. It seems that CECAFA has not yet discovered means to end financial constraints, which most often caused by lack of effective sponsorship.

It is been very unfortunate for CECAFA that those who are supposed to serve as sponsors are organizing their own tournaments and so further plotting the total destruction of the regional football body. CECAFA zone is regarded the weakest football region in Africa.

Only Uganda impresses in FIFA World rankings while the rest have been limping far behind the best 100 standing.

Tanzania has remained at the 135th position in the May FIFA rankings with 218 points it held in the last rankings released last month. Tanzania is placed in the 39 position in the continental and fifth in the Cecafa zone. Last month, Tanzania took a huge leap, going up by 22 slots globally up from previous 157. Uganda continued with its dominance as the Cecafa region powerhouse.

They are positioned 72nd on the 211 FIFA member nations with 463 points. Kenya also remains at 78th on 428 points. It’s too soon to credit the SportPesa’s goal to upgrade the level of the regional football as the bookmakers have just started operations.

But altogether, SportsPesa has a poor timing, a situation that most of its tournament’s matches recorded poor attendance. We would suggest the second edition of Super Cup to come in the middle of season or the time when teams have their full squads since the absence of key players deeply affected the Tanzanian giants Simba and Yanga.

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