New Worst in the World nation Djibouti will be in action sooner than FIFA have listed on their website, with the announcement today of the fixtures for the 2015 CECAFA Cup. This is an official FIFA sanctioned tournament, played for by the teams of East and Central African, and should therefore have a bearing on Djibouti’s world ranking.
With three group matches to play prior to the next rankings being released in early December, there is every chance that Djibouti can find a way to extricate themselves from their current basement dwelling.
Initially set to be hosted by Rwanda, the 38th CECAFA Cup will now take place in Ethiopia. Rwanda withdrew from hosting this event to focus fully on their preparations to host the 2016 African Nations Championship. The tournament had originally been scheduled for November 2014, but the usually annual tournament was delayed for a year, not for the first time in its history.
Djibouti haven’t seen fit to take part on every occasion, with their last appearance being in 2011. Since losing all three group games in that tournament – to Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Rwanda – Djibouti went into exile, not playing internationally again until this year.
The tournament kicks off in Addis Ababa on 21st November with the hosts Ethiopia taking on the team they replaced, Rwanda. The twelve competing teams are split into three groups of four, with the top two plus the two bets third placed teams progressing to the quarter-finals.
Djibouti have been drawn in Group C and kick off their campaign against South Sudan on 23rd November before taking on Malawi and Sudan a few days laters. All of the Group C matches will take place in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia’s third largest city, on the shores of Lake Tana. Intriguingly, this group will see the first footballing clash between Sudan adn South Sudan since the latter’s independence in 2011.
On the face of it, the clashes against South Sudan (world ranking 134th) and Sudan (128th) represent the best prospects for Djibouti to snaffle some points. Malawi (97th) are by far the highest ranked, and are taking part in the CECAFA Cup on an invitational basis. They are not a part of the East and Central African region as far as football goes, but after a withdrawal by Eritrea, due to ongoing political tension with Ethiopia, Malawi were recruited to complete the numbers.
We’ll be looking closer at the tournament and Djibouti’s progress in it in the coming days.
Group A: Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Somalia
Group B: Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Zanzibar
Group C: Djibouti, Malawi, South Sudan, Sudan