Cecafa Cup deserves credit
The Cecafa Tusker Cup came to an end with a mouthwatering final that saw Uganda Cranes edge out their bitter rivals Harambee Stars of Kenya 2-1. They lifted the coveted trophy for a record 13th time.
Kenya's participation in the tournament was in doubt after feuding between the Cecafa secretariat and the Football Kenya Federation, which was later amicably resolved. There was another twist in the tale as the national team coach, Henry Michel, called the tournament "useless", pulling out the best players and leaving stand-in coach James Nandwa with fringe players.
This new development seemed to give the team resolve and Harambee Stars defied all odds to reach the final and lose by a slim margin to Uganda. Henry Michel had to eat his own words.
It’s important to give the organisers the thumbs up, as it was not easy for them, considering the adverse weather conditions and the availability of only one stadium, which was overwhelmed by the intensity of the matches played on a daily basis. As the days went by, a decision was made to move the matches from Mandela Stadium to the Lugogo Stadium.
The standards of the beautiful game in the region have tremendously improved and we could see teams like Zanzibar, who were definitely the team of the tournament, upsetting the big guns. The young teams, like Burundi, Somali, Eritrea and South Sudan, gave a good account of themselves, despite being considered as underdogs. They showed the big teams that they had to be respected.
However, Cecafa, having grown in stature, should improve on the prize money on offer to entice more teams and to make the tournament more competitive. The winners received $30 000 while the runners up received $20 000 and the third-placed team went home with $10 000. This is not enough to motivate the team.
The government of Uganda must be applauded for providing the best security in the wake of the Al Shabaab attacks in the region. They took no chances and remained vigilant for the duration of the tournament.
The sponsors did a tremendous job, ensuring that the beautiful game was well received by the fans, and the broadcaster, SuperSport, ensured the games were broadcast live to many homes across Africa.
The Uganda Cranes deserved it as they gave their best. Being one of the best teams in the region, they can only get better.