Two months ago a certain African football federation was thrown into turmoil when the host of their show piece event suddenly withdrew. While CAF moved with speed to save the Africa Cup of Nations, the body I’m talking about is the Confederation and East and Central African Football Associations, and the event in question is the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup.
Born as the Gossage Cup in the 1920s, the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup is the oldest running international football tournament on the African Continent, was due to be hosted in Ethiopia in its traditional November-December window.
Kenya’s Harambee Stars are the current defending champions, having won the 2013 edition as hosts. That year’s tournament had its own problems as FKF, struggled to mobilize funds to ensure all th hosting costs were met in good time. There was the embarrassment of a national team detained in a city hotel over unpaid bills.
After a number of behind the scenes efforts, CECAFA finally gave up (at least for this year) and the tournament was called off. Word spreading on several sports sites indicates that the tournament long overdue an overhaul and that nation were increasingly averse to hosting the show in its current format.
Apparently, some of CECAFA’s members want a home and away league system (like in the UEFA Champions League) with finalists playing each other at a neutral venue at the end of the year. Or something like that
If this reform carries through, it will pretty much eliminate the burden of one country having to host several teams and the delegations and fans, that apparently was the beef behind most of the CECAFA members dislike for the once off tournament format.
However, spreading the CECAFA tournament will have its draw backs. For instance, given that most of the time the players are involved in club football (home and abroad) and when that is not going on, World Cup and CAN Qualifiers, when will these matches be held?
Will there not likely be resistance from those clubs whose plates are already full with local league, and continental commitments? Asking them to allow their start players to commit to an additional ~22 (11 opponents x 2 games) during the competitive season might a bitter pi8ll to swallow. Not to mention issues of security, in countries like Somalia in particular. Will they host their won matches?
That being said, no actual changes have been announced, yet and in all likelihood, the promoters of change might not get the numbers to force anything at all through. Nonetheless, with this years’ Challenge Cup tournament off the books, and potential host showing cold feet, clearly things cannot go on as is.