Three nations withdraw from CECAFA Zonal Qualifiers as Somalia steps up, setting the stage for a fiercely competitive youth football tournament.
Eritrea, Sudan, and South Sudan have decided to withdraw from the highly anticipated Pan African Schools Championship CECAFA Zonal Qualifiers, scheduled to take place in Nairobi from December 10th to 13th, 2023.
Yusuf Mossi, the Competitions Director of the Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA), officially confirmed the unfortunate news.
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It was initially expected that these three nations would participate in the CAF African Schools Football Championship qualifiers, but unforeseen circumstances have forced their withdrawal.
The CECAFA Zonal Qualifiers, specifically designed for U-15 boys and girls teams, will still bring excitement to football fans across the region, with the action unfolding at the Kasarani Annex Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya.
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Despite the setback, the Somali Football Federation (SFF) has stepped up to the plate, confirming that they will indeed field a team.
"We are happy that Somalia will also send a team to the schools tournament," stated Yusuf Mossi, bringing a glimmer of hope to the competition.
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The boys' category will remain competitive with six teams battling it out: Kenya, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and now Somalia.
Meanwhile, the girls' category will feature a fierce lineup, including Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.
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Mossi expressed his confidence that the tournament would be highly competitive, as teams have had ample time to prepare.
A total of eleven boys' teams and seven girls' sides are set to compete in the Championship.
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The champions in each category will earn the coveted opportunity to represent the CECAFA Zone at the Africa Schools Championship, scheduled for April next year.
In the inaugural Championship held in February this year, Uganda's Royal Giant High School emerged victorious in the boys' category, while Fountain Gate Dodoma School from Tanzania claimed the girls' title.
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Logarusic is adamant his charges must take it “game by game”, describing the league race as a “marathon and not a sprint”.
Impressively, Fountain Gate Dodoma School continued their winning streak by clinching the African Schools Championship girls' trophy when the tournament was held in South Africa.