Zambia v Djibouti 2pm
Sudan v Kenya 4pm
Zanzibar v Somalia 5pm
Uganda v Rwanda 7.30pm
THE 35TH CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup party rolls off in the industrial town of Jinja today, buoyed by hopes that tight security and meticulous planning will ensure a tournament that mirrors the countryâ€™s brightening mood.
Few Ugandans expect glory from the home side, poised to assemble a largely inexperienced side that will be in position to discover the intensity of competition after tonightâ€™s two grueling matches on card.
Most realize that hosting sportâ€™s most-watched spectacle -and the first major international sporting event in the country since 1999 â€”is a chance to burnish Ugandaâ€™s image and to have a good time.
The tournament opens with indicators of business and consumer optimism running high and the Ugandan economy â€“slightly picking up after several stagnant years. Economists say the tournament may contribute a certain percentage of the 8.2 percent growth this year. Over a thousand foreign visitors are expected to spend.
The run-up to the tournament has been marked by concerns regarding ticket prices. A majority of fans feel the sh10,000 entry fee is an unjust price tag.
Guests Zambia engage hapless Djibouti before Champions Sudan kick-start their title defence against dark horses Kenya in the first of matches spread over 14 days with 10 teams playing in three different stadia.
Basing on the belief that tournament hosts always enjoy unprecedented privilege, regardless of their weight, Uganda, and 2010 World Cup qualifying final stage finalists Kenya, Sudan, Zambia and Rwanda should be favourites.
Last year, Sudan won a nerve-gripping final against Rwanda, their second consecutive title and are seeking to complete a hat-trick of honours.
But the Chipolopolo, drafted into the tournament as a late replacement for Eritrea who withdrew citing political tension at home, could still prove indomitable. Zambia, two-time champions in 1984 and 1991 are eager to repeat their 2006 heroics when they won the competition after beating Sudan in the finals.
Cranes target tenth title
Uganda, the all-time CECAFA winners, seeking their 10th title, are growing in confidence in the run up to Thursdayâ€™s explosive match against Rwanda.
Coach Bobby Williamsonâ€™s side had a light morning session yesterday before engaging in a tense work-out later in the afternoon.
Abbey Dhaira, Patrick Ochan, Tonny Mawejje and Joseph Owino were due to join the team yesterday.
CECAFA tournament kicks-off today