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Page last updated at 11:02 GMT, Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Uganda prepares for Cecafa

Zambia team 2006
Zambia will participate again as guests, having won the event two years ago

Ten nations will compete for the East and Central Africa Senior Challenge Cup (Cecafa Cup) which starts in Uganda on Wednesday.

The hosts, who have won the event a record nine times, are seeking their first triumph in five years and are in Group A with Tanzania, Rwanda, Zanzibar and Somalia.

Uganda finished third in last year's event in Tanzania, behind Sudan and Rwanda.

Defending champions Sudan are in Group B alongside Kenya, Burundi, Djibouti and guests Zambia with the top two sides in each group qualifying for the semi-finals

The opening games of the tournament are in Group B with Zambia playing minnows Djibouti and Sudan facing Kenya.

Zambia will participate as guests, after being invited to replace Eritrea, who withdrew from the two-week tournament.

The Zambians won the tournament in 2006 in Addis Ababa, having also been invited as guests then.

Kalusha Bwalya, the president of the Zambia Football Association, has said the tournament will be ideal preparation for the year ahead.

"We're very happy the Cecafa executive invited us to this regional tournament because it will help our team prepare better for both the African Nations Championship (CHAN) and the 2010 World Cup and African Cup of Nations qualifiers," he said.

Kenya, Rwanda and Sudan go into the tournament on a high as East Africa's representatives in the final phase of the World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, which begin in March.

Tanzania will also be using the event as a warm-up for the first ever finals of the CHAN, which kick off in the Ivory Coast on 22 February.

The Tanzanians already have a psychological advantage over 2007 Cecafa champions Sudan, having only recently knocked them out of the CHAN qualifiers.

Kenya coach Francis Kimanzi has said he is giving the tournament the same respect as the World Cup qualifiers.

Burundi have yet to win the event, with their best showing coming as runners-up to Ethiopia in 2004.

Ethiopia are prevented from taking part as they are serving a Fifa suspension.

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see also
Zambia get Cecafa Cup invite
18 Dec 08 |  African
CHAN joy for Zim and Tanzania
14 Dec 08 |  African
Sudan harvest Cecafa talent
23 Dec 07 |  African
Sudan claim Cecafa title
22 Dec 07 |  African
Zambia are Cecafa champions
10 Dec 06 |  African

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