Voice of Sport

‘East Africa’ FAs gang up to frustrate Cecafa football but no fortunes for them in international football

Except Uganda who made a winning start to AFCON qualifiers, the region had an abysmal performance. Countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Sudan saw their campaigns virtually dead-and-buried on the opening weekend of the Cameroon 2019 race

Left agape: Mbwana Samatta , scorer for Tanzania in the disappointing 1-1 draw with Lesotho in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nation qualifier on the weekend could only find the excuse of the Azam FC club ground in Chamazi, Dar es Salaam being “too small”

goose canada  canada goose  

2019 AFCON qualifiers:

Results:

Gp ‘A’:

Senegal 3-0 Equatorial Guinea

*Sudan 1-3 Madagascar

Gp ‘B’:

Cameroon 1-0 Morocco

Malawi 1-0 Comoros

Gp ‘C’:

*Burundi 3-0 *South Sudan

Mali 2-1 Gabon

Gp ‘D’:

Benin 1-0 The Gambia

Algeria 1-0 Togo

Gp ‘E’:

Libya 5-1 Seychelles

Nigeria 0-2 South Africa

Gp ‘F’:

Ghana 5-0 *Ethiopia

Sierra Leone 2-1 *Kenya

Gp ‘G’:

Zimbabwe 3-0 Liberia

Congo Kinshasa 3-1 Congo Brazzaville

Gp ‘H’:

Central Africa Republic *2-1 Rwanda

Cote d’Ivoire 2-3 Guinea

Gp ‘I’:

Burkina Faso 3-1 Angola

Botswana 0-1 Mauritania

Gp ‘J’:

Niger 0-0 Swazilandwatch Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets film now

Tunisia 1-0 Egypt

Gp ‘K’:

Guinea Bissau 1-0 Namibia

Zambia 0-1 Mozambique

Gp ‘L’:

*Tanzania 1-1 Lesotho

Cape Verde 0-1 *Uganda

*Cecafa region teams (absent 1 Somalia, 2 Zanzibar, 3 Djibouti, 4 Eritrea)

THEY are trying to put up a brave face but many East and Central African region teams, the journey to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations ended immediately after the start with opening qualifying matches on Saturday.

Take a bet right now — and you will cash in after the last matches on November 13, 2018 — that Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Sudan will certainly not be travelling Cameroon for 32nd edition of AFCON finals.

In a very difficult group including four-time AFCON winners Ghana,  who thrashed Ethiopia 5-0, Kenya would need miraculous recovery to virtually win all remaining matches,  home and away,  after falling 1-2 to Sierra Leone in Freetown. And in any case that is hardly possible against a team with the professional pedigree of Ghana who had Ethiopia gob smacked at Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi.

Ernest Sugira (left) celebrates a goal for Rwanda’s Amavubi in a recent match at Amahoro Stadium, Kigali. He scored the consolation goal for his team in the 1-2 loss in Bangui to Central Africa Republic in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier

Ernest Sugira (left) celebrates a goal for Rwanda’s Amavubi in a recent match at Amahoro Stadium, Kigali. He scored the consolation goal for his team in the 1-2 loss in Bangui to Central Africa Republic in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier

Leave alone making a recovery and pressing for qualification, Kenya, alongside Ethiopia are already in contention of who will finish last in Group ‘F’. Rwanda fell 1-2 in Central Africa Republic and it is a supremely tall order to lifting themselves against perennial AFCON qualifiers, Guinea and 1992 and 2015 champions Cote d’Ivoire in Group ‘H’. Sudan’s 1-3 home defeat in Khartoum by Madagascar was an absolute disgrace in a country right now embroiled in severe infighting by stakeholders in the Sudan Football Association defying a Fifa intervention.

 Tanzania drew 1-1 at home to Lesotho but Dar es Salaam was a strange place last Saturday. With the country’s football association, Tanzania Football Federation [TFF] more pre-occupied with a club tournament between Tanzania and Kenya clubs last week and the election campaigns for TFF posts coming up, it was as if the Tanzanian national team was not involved in AFCON at all. A “Mickey mouse” soccer tournament going on in Dar could even allow Taifa Stars use of the Uhuru Stadium and they therefore took the qualifier far out of town to the small playing field of Premier League club Azam in the Chamazi outskirts. The dull outcome favoured the visitors.

After roping in Burundi and Ethiopia presidents, and regarding themselves to have assumed the majority, FA leaders from East Africa have since frequently convened meetings to “as a block, chart the way forward,” even though they hold no office in the Cecafa Executive Committee. This is in one of those meetings called by Uganda. They are from left to right: Ravia Faina (Zanzibar), Nicholas Mwendwa (Kenya), Reverina Ndikuniyo (Burundi), Moses Magogo (Uganda), Juneidi Basha Tilmo (Ethiopia), Vincent Nzamwita (Rwanda), Jamal Malinzi (Tanzania)

After roping in Burundi and Ethiopia presidents, and declaring themselves the majority, FA leaders from East Africa have since frequently convened meetings to “as a block, chart the way forward,” even though they hold no office in the Cecafa Executive Committee. This is in one of those meetings called by Uganda. They are from left to right: Ravia Faina (Zanzibar), Nicholas Mwendwa (Kenya), Reverina Ndikuniyo (Burundi), Moses Magogo (Uganda), Juneidi Basha Tilmo (Ethiopia), Vincent Nzamwita (Rwanda), Jamal Malinzi (Tanzania)

This lack of interest by TFF mandarins in Taifa Stars underlines lack of hope for a country which only just once ever before, 37 years ago, reached the AFCON finals. Hopelessness defined them after they could not gain a home win against what could have been considered the weakest opponent in the Group ‘L’. There will be heavy odds that Uganda will thrash Tanzania, home and away, and it will be an early “game up” for Taifa Stars who still have to face Cape Verde.

The aftermath of the AFCON qualifiers over the weekend for TFF officials and their supporters was not worry about the indifferent result by Taifa Stars. What the sycophant support of sitting TFF boss, Jamal Malinzi, was doing is laud him: “for the good work you and the executive committee are doing for the development of football. You have made our football playable and respected all around the country.”

Under-performing beneath the floodlights of the Azam FC pitch in Chamazi, Dar es Salaam, Taifa Stars (right) left with a hill to climb by Lesotho who held them 1-1

Under-performing beneath the floodlights of the Azam FC ground in Chamazi, Dar es Salaam, Taifa Stars (right) were left with a hill to climb by Lesotho who held them 1-1

They said Tanzania making the Under-17 AFCON finals recently was “a [Malinzi] testament of commitment and vision.” The stakeholders from one of Tanzania’s administrative regions [province] Iringa Region said they applauded the TFF boss for “great work”.

Tanzania’s ambitions are, then, clearly not that high and things like AFCON qualifiers are a distraction from their lowly targets. Next big focus for TFF is Taifa Stars is taking part as a guest team, which they canvassed for, in the Cosafa [Confederation of Southern Africa Football Associations] Cup tournament. The Cosafa tournament, where they never do well anyway, has during Malinzi’s reign been his country’s highest aspiration for the national team.

For Kenya captain Victor Wanyama, there was only diplomacy left to play for after Kenya’s 1-2 loss in Freetown to Sierra Leone FA President Isha Johansen’s Leone Stars last Saturday

For Kenya captain Victor Wanyama, there was only diplomacy left to play for after Kenya’s 1-2 loss in Freetown to Sierra Leone FA President Isha Johansen’s Leone Stars last Saturday

In November 2015 Sudan Football Association [SFA] President, Dr Mutasim Gafar Sir Elkhatim was unanimously elected the president of the Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa during a sitting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Even though it was a purely democratic process, in the meeting hall, Malinzi expressed shock that “original East African countries” –Tanzania, Zanzibar, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda — did not get seats on Dr Sir Elkhatim’s committee.

Almost in tears, Malinzi, said: “this is unacceptable, and Cecafa will never be the same again.” It But the winning majority of nations in the Addis elections felt slighted by  the “East African” view of them as being “small nations”. This, particularly, was in reference to Somalia, Djibouti, South Sudan and Burundi delegates who played a big role in Dr Sir Elkhatim’s election with the backing of Ethiopia and Sudan.

Left for dead … Ethiopia (goalie down on the floor) where thrashed 5-0 by Ghana in Kumasi. They are ion the same group with Kenya and Sierra Leone

Left for dead … Ethiopia (goalie down on the floor) where thrashed 5-0 by Ghana in Kumasi. They are in the same group with Kenya and Sierra Leone

Since then, Cecafa football, including the popular Cecafa Challenge Cup whose origin in 1926 was the annual Kenya v Uganda international for the Gossage Cup  — one of the world’s oldest soccer tournaments in the world and indeed older than the Fifa World Cup [1930] — was in jeopardy.

Especially Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda have blocked every attempt to host Cecafa tournaments since 2015. After roping in Burundi and Ethiopia presidents, and regarding themselves to have  assumed the majority, FA leaders from East Africa  have since frequently  convened meetings to, “as a block to chart the way forward,” even though they hold no office in the Cecafa Executive Committee.

One that got away with it … Uganda Cranes took a useful 1-0 way win in Praia against Cape Verde

One that got away with … Uganda Cranes took a useful 1-0 away win in Praia against Cape Verde

The Cecafa Exco is: Dr Mutasim Gafar Sir Elkhatim (Sudan) – President; Abdiqani Said Arab [Somalia] Vice-President; Souleiman Hassan Waberi [Djibouti] – member; Aimable Habimona [Burundi] – member and Alei Chabur Goc [South Sudan]- member, who is currently suspended by his home FA. The unelected general secretary is Nicholas Musonye of Kenya.

On Tuesday Musonye said irresponsible leadership of mainly East African FAs — Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda — had crippled Cecafa football and the losers were “players, clubs, national teams, business in general and the football fans.”

He said: “This is a region led badly; most players and teams are left out of the vibrant African scene. You would have thought then that FA leaders here would promote regional opportunities for players, teams and fans to engage in football which was indeed popular in the past, but the leaders have other focus; scoring cheap political points over each other and in despicable sabotage,  year-in-year-out.”

Cecafa secretary general Nicholas Musonye (right) with Vice-President Abdulqani Said Arab at the Challenge Cup tournament in Addis Ababa in 2015. Musonye said Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda football associations heads have no respect for other member nations

Cecafa secretary general Nicholas Musonye (right) with Vice-President Abdulqani Said Arab at the Challenge Cup tournament in Addis Ababa in 2015. Musonye said Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda football association heads have no respect for other member nations

Musonye was also quoted telling BBC Sport saying: “There are four nations that need to take a hard look at themselves. In 2015 the president of Sudan’s FA, Dr Mutasim Gafar was elected by a majority in free and fair elections but sore losers openly vowed to sabotage him. The interests of 12 member nations were then put into jeopardy.”

Musonye said the intention of the saboteurs was “bringing confusion and to kill Cecafa. If that is what they want, let them do it, it’s their baby, it’s their organisation.”

He went on: “The attitude of some FA officials, to denigrate others, was unacceptable. Cecafa is not my company; I’m only their custodian as secretary general. I’m in charge of 12 countries, all of them being equal but Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda think they’re more equal than others. These members decided that they cannot support the new president of Cecafa.”

Rwanda’s President Kagame, a great believer in football for unity and development receives a shirt from Fifa President Gianni Infantino (above) after a consultation meeting (below) in Zurich. President Kagame in charge of a reform agenda at the African Union which puts emphasis on sport in the continent

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, a great believer in football for unity and development receives a shirt from Fifa President Gianni Infantino (above) after a consultation meeting (below) in Zurich. President Kagame is in charge of reforms at the African Union which puts emphasis on sport in the continent

Musonye said the crisis in the governance of football in the region has also been a major factor in the decline in the fortunes of their teams. “There is mediocrity in terms of organisation so they can never qualify [for the Africa Cup of Nations]. There is bad leadership in our zone which has been persistent for many years and this has really affected the promotion of football.

“Member associations of Cecafa don’t even pay their annual affiliation fees. They don’t pay tournament participation fees either; they want to play for free.”

After election on November 20, 2015 in Addis Ababa, some members of the Cecafa Exco, from left to right: partly hidded, Alei Chabur Goc [South Sudan]; Abdiqani Said Arab [Somalia], secretary general Nicholas Musonye [Kenya]; Dr Mutasim Gafar Sir Elkhatim (Sudan) – President; Souleiman Hassan Waberi [Djibouti] and Aimable Habimona [Burundi]

After election on November 20, 2015 in Addis Ababa, some members of the Cecafa Exco, from left to right: partly hidded, Alei Chabur Goc [South Sudan]; Abdiqani Said Arab [Somalia], secretary general Nicholas Musonye [Kenya]; Dr Mutasim Gafar Sir Elkhatim (Sudan) – President; Souleiman Hassan Waberi [Djibouti] and Aimable Habimona [Burundi]

When ushering in the new Cecafa President, the outgoing boss Leodegar Tenga of Tanzania whose country was traditional rescue for tournaments when other nations cried out said Dr Sir Elkhatim was a capable leader: “Dr Mutasim is a visionary man who is capable of leading the region to a greater development. I am very proud that I gave my best in the last eight years I served as Cecafa president.”  Tenga took over in December 2007 from the late Dennis Obua of Uganda.

But the earliest act of lack of co-operation with Cecafa by Tanzania football boss was for Malinzi to cancel the 2016 Cecafa Kagame Cup club championship his FA was supposed to host. And Tanzania has now, ever since, looked elsewhere to replace their participation in the Cecafa Challenge Cup with being permanent entrants of the Southern Africa region tournament Cosafa.

Cecafa President Dr Mutasim Gafar Sir Elkhatim (third from left) and Exco member Souleiman Hassan Waberi (right), witness a recent signing of co-operation between Cecafa and other regional members of CAF [African Football Confederation]

Cecafa President Dr Mutasim Gafar Sir Elkhatim (third from left) and Exco member Souleiman Hassan Waberi (right), witness a recent signing of co-operation between Cecafa, Cosafa and the North Zones of CAF [African Football Confederation]

The stalemate in Cecafa operations is destined to stay if the intransigence of Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya continues. Yet inactivity of their teams in regional football cannot be said to help them much. It stuns football followers who despite shoddy leadership, at least had opportunity to watch top flight football if only supported by say most prominently Governments of Rwanda — President Paul Kagame is sponsor of the Kagame Cup club tournaments –Tanzania and Sudan.

Ironically it is Malinzi’s allies in the “war on Cecafa” that will almost certainly shut him out of the 2019 AFCON finals qualifiers. Uganda the top and most talented team in the Cecafa region had a very useful 1-0 win over Cape Verde in their first qualifying match and will, without any doubt toy around with Malinzi’s Tanzania.

Anti-corruption

There will be FA elections in Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda before the end of the year and maybe change of offices may turn around the management of the game in the region for the better. In Tanzania, Malinzi is facing stiff competition to retain his seat as TFF boss while the country’s anti-corruption and tax authorities are on the case of his administration over allegations of corruption and evasion of taxes. Incumbents in Uganda and Rwanda are also facing opposition to their leadership at impending polls.

President Kagame was appointed by heads of state to lead African Union in reforms and as one who recognizes sport as one of the unifying tools would be appalled by the state of FAs leadership that has halted football activity in the region. This week President Kagame was in Zurich meeting the Fifa President Gianni Infantino and an obvious hope to many football followers was that revival of football competition in the region would have been one of the Rwandan President’s concern.

– Additional reporting by Correspondents and Agencies