The Zanzibar Football Association is considering a bid to host next year’s Council of East and Central Africa FA (CECAFA) Cup.

By Steven Menary

The decision came after the latest CECAFA Cup in Uganda, where Zanzibar were in the running for a semi-final place right to the wire.Zanzibar sports administrator Ally Saleh said: “We wanted 2009 but were told Kenya would host, so we might choose 2010 or if Kenya drops the bid [then this year].”

The 32nd CECAFA Cup was scheduled for November but delayed because of a number of changes. Ethiopia were omitted through FIFA suspension while Eritrea withdrew due to administrative problems at home and were replaced by Zambia.

Ten teams took part and Zanzibar kicked off Group A by beating Somalia 2-0 at the Nelson Mandela National Stadium in Kampala. Central defender Aggrey Morris scored in the 23rd minute and then added a last-minute penalty.

Unlike some countries, hosts Uganda chose to play their strongest team and called up professionals playing abroad. They thrashed Rwanda 4-0 in their opener but were held 0-0 by Zanzibar in the next match.

Zanzibar’s third and biggest game was against the island’s political masters, Tanzania.

The formation of the ZFA pre-dates the island’s 1964 merger with the former British colony of Tanganyika to create Tanzania by 38 years. Zanzibar is an associate member of the Confederation of African Football and tried for FIFA membership in 2005 but was rejected when FIFA told the ZFA’s clubs to take the ferry and play in Tanzania.

The ZFA remains a CAF associate member but the CECAFA Cup is the national team’s only international outing.

Tanzania took the lead after 13 minutes through Danny Mrwanda but Nadir Haroub, a central defender who plays for Tanzanian champions Young Africans equalised for Zanzibar eight minutes later. However, Athumani Idd broke Zanzibar’s hearts by scoring the winner with 12 minutes left.

Zanzibar could still have qualified for the semi-finals had they beaten Rwanda in their final group game but they went down 3-0.

Uganda went on to win the tournament, beating Kenya 1-0 in the Final, with Tanzania finishing third after a 3-2 win over Burundi.

The competition is the successor to the Gossage Cup, which was first held in 1926 and sponsored by soap manufacturer William Gossage. It lasted 40 years and was briefly succeeded by the East & Central African Senior Challenge Cup before the first CECAFA Cup was held in 1973, which Uganda also hosted and won.

Zanzibar, hosts in 1976 and 1990, won it in 1995, beating Uganda’s B team 1-0. With no prospect of FIFA changing its mind over the island’s admittance, hosting the CECAFA Cup remains the ZFA’s biggest ambition.