Win CECAFA, dominate region’s football
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MAINLAND soccer team, Kilimanjaro Stars players attend training session yesterday morning at the Dar es Salaam Gymkhana Club, in preparation for the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup, set to kick off in Kenya on Sunday. (Photo by a Correspondent)

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THE Senior Challenge Cup has eventually bounced back full winged, and the Kenyan capital, Nairobi is the venue of this year’s tournament.

It’s come back has been accompanied with the return to scene of the Council of East and Central Africa Football Association (CECAFA), the organizers of the oldest football tournament in Africa.

But, its two-year-absence seems to have already caused a big damage, especially to the young football fans and to some extent the stakeholders like corporate firms which today are much needed as sponsors.

CECAFA must work hard to lure sponsors or else its efforts must end up in smoke. The Tanzanian envoys, Kilimanjaro Stars who left for Nairobi yesterday in trying to capture the throne, must deliver to appeal local fans and sponsors alike.

We wouldn’t want to see tournament being dominated by Uganda Cranes for ever, Stars can change the course too. The prestigious and oldest football competition in Africa have been used by East African countries showcase their players’ masterly of the game and in recent years , the most brilliant players won professional deals within East Africa and outside the region.

This is a great opportunity for the country’s envoys to show Africa and the rest of the world that football in the nation has ripened, that time to enjoy fruits is here.

As usual, Tanzania being a sporting nation, all eyes are focused on the tournament as it is in Kenya where the team seems to perform wonders, the 1994 feat tells it all. Therefore winning the silverware will be the greatest honour to be offered to the success-hungry Tanzanians.

Generally, days have already rushed such that the country’s boys must immediately re-group and begin their home works prior to the CECAFA mission upon considering that the only way to excel in football is through making proper preparations.

Having said that, the CECAFA trip, also requires tangible investment from government, non-governmental organizations as well as individuals just like the way Serengeti Boys was sponsored during their Africa Youth Championship (AYC) in Gabon early this year.

Everybody saw how generous countrywide support directed to U-17 players paid out well beginning from preparations and throughout the competition itself. The awareness among people was high and that should also be the spirit this time around towards Kilimanjaro Stars.

Tanzania is doing everything possible to uplift football standards from underground level a situation which has seen mushrooming of countless football academies scattered in various places around the nation.

Yes, this is the best way to prosper in this beautiful sport as no country has ever managed to make it big without paying more attention at the underground level where real talent is identified and nurtured.

Tanzania last won the CECAFA title in 2010 after defeating the invited team Ivory Coast 1-0 at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam with Shadrack Nsajigwa’s 41st minute penalty sending packing the guest team.

A year later, in 2011, CECAFA was also staged in the country but the home team lost 1-0 to Sudan in third place match as Uganda claimed the trophy thanks to 3-2 penalty win over Rwanda. Uganda will compete in this year’s CECAFA tournament as defending champions after clinching it in 2015 after defeating Rwanda.

Until now, the Cranes of Uganda remain the most successful team as far as CECAFA is concerned with 14 titles to their name while Kenya have won it six teams.

The country’s representatives have everything in their hands to make sure that this time around, the glittering trophy comes to Tanzania to stay for as long as necessary and dominate the region’s football circles of which it is very possible to achieve.

To spice up the event, Zambia and Zimbabwe have been included as guest teams. The rest are Uganda, Sudan, Eritrea, South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Djibouti and Zanzibar.

With all big teams in the bandwagon, warning of the tournament is what Tanzanians want, therefore Kilimanjaro Stars players are urged to fight hard and win so that Tanzanians take it as their national day present.

The focus of the tournament should centre on learning skills, developing teamwork and having fun. Previously The Mainland won it for the first time in 1974 with Lucas Nkondola’s penalty giving the hard earned victory.

The country’s representatives have everything in their hands to make sure that this time around, the glittering trophy comes to Tanzania to stay for as long as necessary and dominate the region’s football circles of which it is very possible to achieve.

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