Why Cecafa is a breath of fresh air for Kenya

Musonye said that the games here could go a long way in unifying the country.

Cecafa Secretary General Nicholas Musonye (right) speaks during a press conference on the 2017 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup at the The FKF Goal Project offices on November 8, 2017. He is flanked by Football Kenya Federation president Nick Mwendwa. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

IN SUMMARY

  • For starters, the 12-team annual football competition involving national teams from East and Central Africa will be staged in Kisumu, Nakuru, Kakamega and Mumias, plus, possibly, Nairobi and Machakos, over two weeks, starting November 25.

An opportunity to host the 39th edition of the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup later this month couldn't have come at a better time for Kenya.

And here is why.

For starters, the 12-team annual football competition involving national teams from East and Central Africa will be staged in Kisumu, Nakuru, Kakamega and Mumias, plus, possibly, Nairobi and Machakos, over two weeks, starting November 25.

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This was confirmed at a press briefing Wednesday, by the regional football body's secretary general Nicholas Musonye and Football Kenya Federation president Nick Mwendwa.

While at it, Zimbabwe and Libya are some of the big-name teams coming in for this one, a team-list that should cause considerable excitement already. The Mediterranean Knights and Warriors will grace this tourney as guest teams.

The invitation list meanwhile, also has the likes of Ethiopia, defending champions Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi, making it a potentially exciting festive season tournament for fanatics from the region.

Crucially, this competition comes at a time Kenya is still smarting from the embarrassment of losing the hosting rights for the 2018 Africa Nations Championship (Chan).

This failure was mainly due to - according to the Confederation of African Football - a lack of adequate infrastructure in the country.

Thus, even though Cecafa is not Chan, the opportunity to host national team players, officials and journalists from across the region for a fortnight will without a doubt improve on Kenya's sporting profile while erasing the pain of losing Chan's hosting rights.

Again, it is important to note the Kakamega County government has done a commendable job in refurbishing Bukhungu Stadium.

This facility will host a select number of games of the tournament, plus probably the final, a move that is certain to not only inject vibrancy and business opportunities to the area residents, but also offer entertainment.

As well, the tournament will offer the Harambee Stars a chance to up their game after what has been below par performances this year. Local-based players will get a chance to market themselves as was the case when Allan Wanga earned a mega bucks move to Sudan's El-Merreikh, after starring for Kenya during the 37th edition of this tournament in Nairobi back in 2013.

Sports loving Kenyans will certainly do with a dose of entertainment after what has been a tough political season. Incidentally, this tournament will kick-off days after the Supreme Court judgement that could uphold or nullify President Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election.

Musonye said that the games here could go a long way in unifying the country. I believe him.

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