First and foremost, Congratulations to the Champions of the CECAFA under 17 tournament that just concluded in Sudan. Uganda by playing hard defeated a strong Eritrean team that surprised many and in the process got terrible media coverage. It is such a shame to follow some of the media outlets from most of the CECAFA countries and see articles and information that was not accurate. It is frustrating to see that what truly was happening on the ground was not being reported correctly. Could it be that there are many beginner sports journalists working in some of those media outlets or a simple act of terrible journalism purposely done to favor their own teams?
First and foremost the CECAFA website was not updated on a regular basis even after the second week when most of the games were completed. I mean what is the purpose of having a website for an event if information is not updated. It took fans and followers almost two days to find out scores of the games. I believe the event was promoted and got hyped so that it can get international coverage. If FIFA truly wants East and Central Africa to build strong squads it should also help with the growth process of media coverage.
Now to team Eritrea, which shocked most spectators when they advanced to the next round after tying both Burundi and Rwanda respectable teams. Eritrea went on to beat Zanzibar who were fairly strong and beat Sudan to advance to the finals against Uganda.
Uganda defeated under 17 world cup qualifier Malawi to advance to the finals. While I believe the Eritrean national team had an opportunity to win the title they fell slightly short to a strong Ugandan team. So you would think that the media coverage would favor an underdog team that no body expected to get to the finals. However, to our dismay the Eritrean team was not heard of or talked about until they got to the finals, even then it was a small coverage saying that Eritrea made it to the finals. Thank god for local Eritrean media we can get the whole scoop from our own media. Then as if some of those countries who lost their chance to win the event did not have enough they continue to smear the Eritrean team with lies.
One thing Eritrea is known for is being truthful about the age of it's players. In Norway in the late 90's some of the youth Eritrean players who surprised the likes of Ronaldinho of Brazil and the thousands of participants at the Norway Cup were subjugated to age investigation and came up with flying colors. In the end the two Eritrean teams made it to the finals and proved that Eritrea was and continues to be a soccer power despite all obstacles. So when you see an article from an armature writer who interviewed the Tanzanian youth Coordinator and then without facts posts the quote, you can then understand the envy others have towards the Eritrean national under 17 team squad, Here is the quote by The TFF head of Youth Competition, Msafiri Mgoyi from the newspaper known as "The Citizen",
Mgoyi said that some teams fielded married players with children and came with their families in the competition. "One of the Eritrean players came with his family and a child, we have photographed him, these showed how the competition is about, we strictly respected all of the competition," said Mgoyi.
While the CECAFA have taken appropriate action against the host team Sudan for using overage players, the Eritrean team has not been fined nor questioned, as a matter of fact they have been rewarded the second place prize and will continue to build the youth for the next level. Congratulations to coach Negash Teklit for doing an outstanding job good luck to the Red Sea boys in the future.
eri-international sports blog