A reliable source within CECAFA headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya confirmed that Azam have been called to replace a team which failed to confirm participation in the tournament.
Azam’s inclusion means that Mainland Tanzania will be represented by two teams in the regional club championships, with Young Africans winning an automatic qualification by virtue of being league champions in the 2012/13 season.
“They (Azam) were required to feature in a new CECAFA tournament -- the Nile Basin -- in May this year but they had already released their players to go on holiday,” a source said.
Azam were replaced by Mbeya City in that tournament which involved the FA Cup champions and runners-up of premier leagues of CECAFA member countries held for the first time this year in Sudan.
“We wrote an invitation letter to Azam and they have confirmed that they will participate in the tournament,” said the source. The Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) Media and Communications Officer, Boniface Wambura told the ‘Daily News’ yesterday that they do not have any information about the matter.
“I have not heard any such information at least by now … may be I should follow it up,” he said. According to the source, CECAFA gave a preferential chance to Azam after considering the fact that Tanzania did not participate in the Kagame Cup held in Sudan last year.
It was the government’s intervention which made the then Kagame Cup defending champions, Yanga and Tanzania Mainland’s 2011/12 champions Simba unable to go Sudan.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Bernard Membe questioned CECAFA’s decision to hold the championship in Sudan’s war-ravaged region of Darfur, saying Tanzania would not send its team. Kenya also did not send a team to Sudan for the tournament.
However, the competition went ahead and Vital’O of Burundi emerged champions. In the 2012 event held at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam, Yanga, then under Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet, lifted the trophy after thrashing Azam 2-0 in a thrilling final match.