Uganda gun for Cecafa hat-trick
The 34th Cecafa Challenge Cup kicks off in Dar-es-Salaam on Saturday with a brand new trophy up for grabs.
A new sponsorship deal for the annual regional championship worth $450,000 has come along with a new gold-plated trophy.
The winners of East and Central Africa‘s premier competition also stand to pocket $30,000.
“Guest teams give us more competition and it also helps us to develop some good relationships with our neighbours,” said Cecafa secretary general Nicholas Musonye.
He added: “This year’s Cecafa Challenge Cup will be special in many ways, especially with the new trophy unveiled last week.”
Uganda are aiming to become the first team to win a hat-trick of Cecafa Challenge Cup titles since Kenya triumphed from 1981 to 1983.
The Cranes have won three Cecafa titles in Tanzania before (1976, 1990 and 1992) but have never done the treble.
Uganda are the most successful side in the competition’s history with a total of 11 wins, followed by Kenya (five), Ethiopia (four), and Malawi and Sudan with three each.
For the likes of Rwanda, Ivory Coast, Uganda and Sudan, this year’s event is preparation for the African Nations Championship (CHAN) to be held in Sudan next year.
The Cecafa Challenge Cup, including its predecessor the Gossage Cup, is the oldest international competition on the African continent, having first been played in 1926.
In 2006, Zambia – invited as guests alongside Malawi – won the tournament, but the trophy and prize money went to the finalists Uganda.
But, in a departure from the past norm, Musonye told BBC Sport that if a guest team emerges as champions, they would be allowed to take the money home.
The 12 teams have been put into three groups of four, with the top two sides in each pool qualifying for the quarter-finals, along with the two best third-place finishers.
2010 Cecafa Challenge Cup groups:
Group A: Tanzania, Zambia, Burundi, Somalia
Group B: Rwanda, Ivory Coast, Sudan, Zambia
GROUP C: Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Malawi