Rwanda National Football League reigning champions APR FC have announced they were stepping down from this year’s CECAFA Kagame Cup, citing the pandemic as the reason for the withdrawal.
Hours after the Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA), announced APR FC among 10 teams take part in the tournament, three-time winners and Rwanda’s sole representative decided not to take part in the competition d scheduled for 1st – 15th August in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The club’s vice chairman Brig. Gen Firmin Bayingana confirmed the news in an interview with Royal FM.
He said “The answer should be obvious to every Rwanda amid the current COVID-19 situation. We are under lockdown and you know what it means. Aside the fact that we have not yet resumed the training, we cannot participate in the tournament while the national U23 team pulled out the regional tournament due to current situation.”
This leaves nine clubs in contention for this year’s CECAFA Kagame Cup trophy.
Those clubs are Young Africans SC, Azam FC (Tanzania), Altabara FC (South Sudan), Le Messager Ngozi FC (Burundi), Express FC, KCCA FC (Uganda), Tusker FC (Kenya), KMKM SC (Zanzibar), Big Bullets FC (Malawi).
The draw will be conducted on July 17.
Last year the tournament did not take place as a knock-on effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Previously known as CECAFA Club Cup, the event which attracts teams from the East and Central Africa, has been renamed the CECAFA Kagame Cup since 2002 after the President of the Republic of Rwanda Paul Kagame, started sponsoring the competition.
Three Rwandan clubs have won the competition with APR the last one to win it in 2010, after Rayon Sports (1998) and the defunct Atraco (2009).