THE 2019-20 season for East African clubs been bleak when it comes to the continental class tournament compared to the last year when three teams reached a group stage.
Council of East and Central Africa Football Association (CECAFA) under ‘Dearboy’ Nicholas Musonye is worried about missing an envoy in Africa club level showpiece, unless five teams engaged in race for the group stage ticket, perform wonders in their return leg matches.
As opposed to last year when Tanzanian envoys; Simba reached the quarter final of the CAF Champions League, there is no any East African team in the top club level champions after Simba were knocked out while others like KCCA, Gor Mahia and Young Africans were relegated to the lower classed Confederation Cup.
The October 27 results in both home and away matches jeopardized even the renewed campaign of CECAFA envoys to play in the group stage of the continental level champions.
The only better positioned are Ugandan nondescript side Proline FC who twice came from behind to force a 2-2 draw with Libyan outfit Al Nasr Benghazi in the first leg of the Total CAF Confederation Cup play-off round played on Sunday night in the Egyptian city of Alexandria.
Bright Anukani scored the equalizer for the Ugandan Cup champions 12 minutes from time to give them a lifeline with two away goals heading into the return fixture in Kampala next weekend.
A scoreless or 1-1 draw in Kampala will be enough to book the side a historic place in the Confederations Cup group stages while Al Nasr must now win or pick a draw of more than three goals in East Africa to go through.
All five CECAFA envoys face an uphill task in their race to play in group stage Cup following dismal results in their both home and away matches games. Most troubled are Tanzanian envoys Young Africans who suffered a 2-1 home loss to Pyramids of Egypt at CCM Kirumba Stadium in Mwanza.
Other CECAFA envoys KCCA and Gor Mahia also failed to win at home after they were held to a barren draw and 1-1 draw in Kampala and Nairobi respectively.
The fourth CECAFA envoys were playing against Horoya FC of Guinea late Sunday. In Conakry, Guinea, Bandari FC of Kenya suffered a 4-2 loss to Horoya a situation that makes Kenyan envoys to win 2-0 in the return leg in Nairobi.
Young Africans who lost 2-1 to Pyramids of Egypt at CCM Kirumba Stadium in Mwanza , are the heavily tasked to turn tables in Cairo where they have to win by over two-goals margin to qualify for CAF Confederation Cup’s group stage.
The same task faces KCCA of Uganda who were forced to a barren draw by Paradou of Algeria in Kampala. The Ugandan champions must win away or draw 1-1 if they want to play in the group stage again. Also facing an uphill task are the Kenyan champions Gor Mahia, who shared spoils with Motema Pembe of DR Congo in Nairobi on October 27th.
A barren draw in Kinshasa will see them out of the competition unless they win or draw above two goals. The first leg results threaten CECAFA zone, unless the teams turn tables in their return leg matches. Tanzania envoys, Young Africans who drew 1-1 with Township Rollers in Champions League managed to advance after a 1-0 in Gaborone.
It is a daunting task for remaining CECAFA teams and only miracles will see them advance to group stage. CECAFA Zone had thirteen teams engaged in both CAF Champions League and the Confederation this year before the number was reduced to only five going onto a play-off stage.
The teams playing in the Champions League were; Simba, Young Africans (Tanzania), KCCA (Uganda), Gor Mahia (Kenya), Aigle Noir (Burundi), Rayon Sports (Rwanda) and KMKM (Zanzibar). Teams engaged in the Confederation Cup included Azam, KMC (Tanzania), Proline (Uganda), Bandari (Kenya), AS Kigali (Rwanda) and Malindi (Zanzibar).
Tanzania was rewarded to bring four teams following the success of Simba in the last season’s continental club level showpiece, but none of remain in the Champions League. Simba were eliminated in the Preliminary round by UD Songo of Mozambique while Yanga bowed out of race after 3-2 aggregate loss to Zesco of Zambia.
Other Tanzanian envoys KMC were bundled out in the Preliminary round while Azam made exit in the first round. Though in football anything can happen, the October 27 results of the CECAFA envoys don’t guarantee East African team a place in the group stage. But still we East Africans rally behind our envoys in their campaign.