By Katondwaci Marvin
As the Africa Nations Championship draws closer teams are hoping to use the Nile basin tournament in Egypt Cairo as a measure of how prepared their teams are. The Nile basin tournament was initiated by Egypt and will involve seven Nile Basin countries including Burundi, D.R. Congo, Egypt, Kenya, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. The tournament will take place from the 5-17 January 2011 in Cairo.
The friendly tournament is meant to harmonize the relationship between all the countries that share the Nile water and to create awareness to safeguard water as a resource for the benefit of future generations among countries sharing the Nile River Basin.
Teams taking part have gone with mainly local based players to prepare them for the African Nations Championship which is just a month away. It is a tournament where only players who play their soccer in their home countries are eligible to take part. This is also because many professionals are not available due to their tight playing schedules in their respective clubs.
Kenya will be without players from Sofapaka the local league champions whose players were withdrawn by the club as they concentrate on their up-coming continental commitments. Kenya are taking part in the tournament after a disastrous outing in the Senior Challenge Cup where they lost all their group matches to bow out in the first round.
Tanzania will be hoping to repeat the heroics that earned them the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup; the Taifa stars beat Ivory Coast 1-0 in the final of the tournament that was held in Tanzania. Egypt remain the favorites for the competition, The 7 time Africa cup of nations winners will be hoping to keep the trophy on home soil. Congo will make sure they can continue from where TP Mazembe left off in changing the global view of a nation that has been rocked with Political violence and conflict.
The Egyptian national team will play the opening game in the Nile Basin friendly tournament against Tanzania on January 5th. Four national teams, Egypt, Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi will play in group A, while Sudan, Kenya and Dr Congo play in group B.
The draw kept Uganda and Sudan apart after the Sudanese had requested not to play in the same group with Uganda who they meet in the same group in CHAN 2011 next month.
The top two teams of each group will qualify to play the semi finals. The 1st team in group A will play with the 2ndteam in group B while the 1st team in group B will play against the 2nd team in group A.
Teams coming third in both groups will compete for the 5th position.
The semi final games will be played on January 14th while the final game will played on January 17th.