CECAFA braced for 'new chapter' in African competition - Musonye

Victor Wanyama celebrates with Kenya EPA/DANIEL IRUNGU

Nicholas Musonye, the Secretary General of the Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations believes the region is braced for a 'new chapter' of success in continental competitions.

The region's teams have largely fared well during the Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign, with Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda all still firmly in the running for next year's showpiece.

Sudan and South Sudan are both out of the running, while Rwanda and Ethiopia have their work cut out to qualify.

"We can't wait to see four CECAFA teams play in the 2019 AFCON," Musonye told KweséESPN. "This will be a big statement made by our teams, which have always struggled to qualify.

"I think, over time, our teams in the region have gone back to the drawing board and done some homework in order to improve and compete with the best.

"Having more of our teams playing in AFCON will open a new chapter, and perhaps they could start finding top-class exposure and better ways to keep qualifying."

Uganda need just a point against Cape Verde next month to qualify from Group L, while Tanzania can progress alongside them if they defeat Lesotho and the Cranes win.

Kenya's qualification is all but secured, although that could change if FIFA decide to restore Sierra Leone, who are currently suspended.

"Last year, only Uganda qualified for the AFCON and it was not through chance, but through hard work and planning," Musonye added. "Also, the tournaments we have in the region, like the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup and CECAFA Kagame Club Championships have helped our players improve."

Kenya FA President Nick Mwendwa is confident that 2019 AFCON qualification would make it easy for the Harambee Stars to secure future appearances at the continental showpiece.

"We have had a lot of financial challenges, but we are hoping that if we can qualify for the 2019 AFCON it will turn our fortunes and more sponsors will come on board," he told KweséESPN.

"It will be nice to have several teams from the CECAFA region play at the 2019 AFCON because this will send a strong message that we are working hard and the exposure we'll get will help."