Uganda will host the Council of East and Central Africa Football Association (Cecafa) Under-20 championships from January 14 TO 27 for the first time after eight years.
Gulu and Jinja towns have been earmarked to host the two-week tournament sponsored by world football governing body, Fifa, to the tune of Sh50 million.
Eleven nations - Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi, Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan and neighbours South Sudan - have confirmed participation.
“Zanzibar have pulled out of the tournament because they are reorganising their federation,” Cecafa Secretary-General Nicholas Musonye said on Monday.
Musonye has directed the Federation of Uganda Football Association (Fufa) to speed up preparations for the tournament.
Burundi and Rwanda successfully hosted the Cecafa Under-17 and Women Challenge Cup in April and July respectively.
Tanzania, which will host the eight-team Africa Under-17 Cup of Nations from April 14 to 28, hosted Cecafa Zone Afcon U-17 qualifiers in August.
“We’ve asked Uganda to give us alternative dates for the tournament because it seems they are not ready just yet,” Musonye added.
Uganda won the past two editions of the tournament staged in 2006 and 2010 in Tanzania and Eritrea respectively.
In a related development, Kenya Under-20 coach Stanley Okumbi has named a provisional squad of 36 players that assembles tomorrow at Utalii grounds in Nairobi to embark on preparations.
Okumbi’s Kenya Under-20 team, known as Rising Stars, has six players that stood out during the inaugural edition of the Copa Coca-Cola Under-16 Africa Cup of Nations tournament held in Nakuru last month.
Led by St Anthony’s Boys Kitale goalkeeper Issa Emuria who was crowned the best shot-stopper, the team also has promising midfielder Lucas Maina and striker Jacob Onyango who will join, among others, Musa Masika who is younger brother of China-based Harambee Stars winger Ayub Timbe in the team.
Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association secretary general David Ngugi has lauded Okumbi’s decision to include the youngsters in the squad.