Regional U17 AFCON kicks off

Serengeti Boys face Burundi in their opening match of the Under-17 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers (CECAFA region) at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam today.

Two matches will be played today, with the first match scheduled to pit Rwanda and Sudan to kick off at lunch time, before Serengeti face Burundi. No entrance fee will be charged to fans who will turn up to witness both matches.

The qualifiers for the 2019 Under-17 Africa Cup of Nations will for the first time be played on a zonal basis (regional), to determine the seven teams to join host Tanzania for next year’s final tournament.

The decision, one of the key elements among the resolutions of the first ever CAF African Football Symposium in July 2017 in Rabat (Morocco), was approved by the CAF Executive Committee.

Council for East and Central Africa Football Association (CECAFA) regional qualifiers will kick off today and climax on August 26th this year at the Uhuru Stadium, National Stadium and Azam’s Chamazi Complex in Dar es Salaam.

Ten countries will tussle out for the available one CECAFA slot in the qualifiers of the U-17 Africa Cup of Nations. Hosts Tanzania, Serengeti Boys will be joined by Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia and Sudan in group A, while Group B has Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Djibouti. Ahead of the kick off today, the CECAFA Secretary General, Nicholas Musonye, said Tanzania is capable to host big football contests in Africa like Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals.

Musonye said this in Dar es Salaam recently when he led CECAFA and CAF delegation to inspect two venues namely the National Stadium and Azam Complex ahead of the Zonal qualifiers.

Addressing the media shortly after the inspection exercise at the National Stadium, Musonye said the delegation was impressed with the standards of the two hosting venues while insisting that Tanzania can stage any big football event in the continent.

“Tanzania can even host AFCON finals if they can get full support from the government and other stakeholders. Let me speak on behalf of TFF that Tanzania is ready to host AFCON. Most officers who are with me have been amazed with the sports infrastructure available here,” Musonye said.

Adding, the CECAFA boss urged government to fully support the upcoming U-17 AFCON Zonal Qualifications since it is a good platform to show the world that Tanzania is ready to stage any football competition.

“The entire Africa will descend here next year for the Africa Youth Championship (AYC) as such; the government of Tanzania has big responsibilities to ensure that the competitions are held smoothly. Personally, I have no doubt that the country will deliver because recently, we had CECAFA Kagame Cup tournament which the country hosted in a desirable way,” Musonye hinted.

According to CECAFA Secretary General, his team inspected the pitches, control rooms, dressing rooms, antidoping rooms, emergency rooms, referee rooms and press rooms of the two hosting stadiums.

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