AFCON U-17 Qualifiers: CECAFA-Zone Tournament Enters Semi-Final Stage
The 2019 Under-17 Africa Cup of Nations-Cecafa-Zone qualifying tournament enters the semi-finals stage.
So far, 18 games have been played in the group stage of 2019 Under-17 Africa Cup of Nations-Cecafa-Zone qualifying tournament, paving the way for semi-finals starting Friday.
As of Wednesday, a total of 54 goals had been scored, with the top two teams from Group ‘A’ and ‘B’ booking places in the semi-finals.
In Group A, Ethiopia finished top with twelve points, followed by Uganda; while in Group B, Tanzania led with nine points while Rwanda finished second with six points.
Ethiopia face Rwanda in the first semi-final match on Friday at the 60,000-capacity National Stadium in Dar-es-Salaam while Uganda battle hosts Tanzania at the same venue.
The final match will be played on Sunday still at the same venue and will be preceded by a third-place play-off.
Djibouti, South Sudan, and Sudan have been the whipping boys in the tournament, shipping a total of 42 goals in the group stage.
The toughest match of semis is expected to be between the hosts Tanzania who will be facing Uganda in a match set to be played under floodlights.
Tanzania’s Serengeti Boys won all the groups matches and their head coach Oscar Mirambi is upbeat that they have what it takes to overcome Uganda Cubs.
“It will be a tough encounter, and this is because Uganda is one of the tough teams in the tournament. We drew 1-1 during the East and Central Africa Youths Challenge Cup in Bujumbura, Burundi.”
“But that is not a guarantee that the same results will occur in the encounter, several months have passed and we have rectified our squad contrary to the past. I know they have done changes and we must be serious this time,” said Mirambo.
Youngsters Kelvin John and Agiri Ngonda will carry Tanzania’s hopes. Ngonda put a sublime performance in their 4-0 win against Rwanda where he was a treble hero.
Uganda coach Peter Onen promised his side will settle for nothing but a win as Cubs are well prepared for the match.
“We are playing the hosts. It will be an interesting game. We have improved tactically since our loss to Ethiopia and we expect a very good game. We know Tanzania has changed a lot in terms of manpower but my boys will be ready,” he said.
Tanzania has a direct ticket to the tournament by virtue of being the host nation.
The winner of the competition will represent the Cecafa region in the finals of the CAF Africa U17 Cup of Nations in May next year – also to be staged in Tanzania.