TIMOTHY OLOBULU / AIPS in NAIROBI: Sepp Blatter has been promised the unanimous support of East and Central Africa in next year’s FIFA presidential election.

Blatter, who took over in 1998, has indicated he will be standing for a fifth term in office.

Frenchman Jerome Champagne has announced a candidacy and possible other contenders include Chilean Harold Mayne-Nicholls and the current Asian FIFA vice-president Prince Ali bin Al Hussein from Jordan.

Support for Blatter was confirmed by an extraordinary general meeting in Nairobi of the Council of East and Central African Football Associations.

Attendees included: Jamal Malinzi (Tanzania), Sam Nyamweya (Kenya), Moses Magogo (Uganda), Vincent Nzamwita (Rwanda), Goc Chabur (south sudan), Reverien Ndikuriyo (Burundi), Abdiqaani Saed (Somalia), Tesfaye Gebreyesus (Eritrea), Juneidi Basha (Ethiopia) Ahmed Eltrifi vice chairman (Sudan) and Ravia Idarius (Zanzibar).

The other significant issue for the egm was the cancellation of this year’s CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup.

The tournament was called off after an extra ordinary general meeting held in Nairobi with the Council of East and Central Africa (CECAFA) executive failing to land another host nation after Ethiopia pulled out early November.

None of the other 11 CECAFA member countries were willing to organize the tournament at short notice and thus the decision to call it off.

The tournament usually brings together countries from East and Central Africa in a two week football bonanza with most of the countries using the tournament to build youngsters.

Hosting problem

CECAFA secretary-general Nicholas Musonye has hinted they may change the format to make the tournament more attractive and maintain its status as one of the best in Africa.

He said: “We have decided to call off the tournament because we could not find a suitable host within that short period of time. It is a disappointment but at the same time we are proud of all the success we have had in the past.

“We need to look critically into the hosting of our competitions to cut costs, re-brand CECAFA and enhance its marketing opportunities.

“We will also look into a new format and structure to make the competitions more vibrant and appealing.”

With none of the East African countries having qualified for next year’s African Cup of Nations, this was a perfect opportunity for them to gauge the strength of their teams and improve ahead of next year’s campaigns.

New Kenya Coach Bobby Williamson was disappointed with the latest development as he hoped to use the tourney to build his team as he angles for the 2017 African Cup of Nations.

He said: “It is a big disappointment that we could not have the tournament. I wanted to use it to give my young players a chance to prove themselves against opponents who are of equal strength.”

Kenya’s Harambee Stars won the last edition held at their backyard and were hoping to defend the title.

Striker Allan Wanga who captained the side to victory scoring twice in the final win against Sudan, said: “CECAFA gives opportunities for young players to prove their worth and build themselves for the big stage. It is a disappointment that this chance will not be there this year.”