By Alula Abraha,
Ethiopian national football side is in danger of an early elimination from group stage. If it loses or even draw its last group match today against group-A leader Tanzania, then it will finish 3rd in its group and depending on results in the other two groups, where two out of the three best third placed team will vie for the last Quarter final places to be played next week.
Tanzania, who is leading the group with maximum points has beaten Rwanda and Somalia while Rwanda had beaten the host nation, Ethiopia 1-0 in the opening match in Addis Ababa last Sunday.
Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia have put 4, 3 and 2 goals past the group-A’s punching bag, Somalia, without any reply, respectively. Zanzibar in Group-B and Djibouti in Group-C are the other punching bags, who usually concede as many goals without any reply. Djibouti is now in par with Somalia leading from the bottom with no point and with a goal difference of negative 9 each while Zanzibar, after conceding 5 goals against Burundi (1) and Uganda (4) in its first two group-B matches, however, had managed a surprise 3-1 win in its last group match against Kenya.
It was remembered that Kenya had already beaten the region’s footballing powerhouse Uganda 2-0 in the opening Group-B match last week but seeing Kenya take a dubious defeat at the hands of Zanzibar, who was itself trumped 4-0 by Uganda, has fallen suspicious of some “foul play” involving a betting scandal.
Scoreline betting firms, “Goaloo” which is in a business of predicting scores for profit as can be confirmed in their website might well be at play here too. After all even a former European and world club champion, Juventus, were humiliated when relegated two divisions down after being caught involving in match fixing scandal.
The free-site-report indicates that the “Goaloo” website is based in US and operates all over the world but more active in Asia, particularly in Malaysia. The betting firms are usually notorious for bribing individual players to, somehow, fix matches. With reputation of poorly paid and cash strapped players in our region, there is, at least, most definitely a whiff of that smell in it of yet again another betting scandal more at play here than a genuine football matches at the so called CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup.
The scam scheme is not only limited to just a mere prediction of the scoreline but also have its tentacles quite diversified into betting on the total goals scored on either half of the matches, number of corners and number of yellow or red cards, etc in the games. In such situations, referees are also brought into the scam to fix the odds for them. The algorithm used in such scam is no different in purpose to that of the hedge-fund’s one that brought down the financial economy of the western world back in 2008. That was only two years prior to June getting relegated back for corruption involving the very betting scandal. It has become almost a way of life in the West that even the biggest continental tournament, the Champions League, couldn’t help needing the money generated by one of the biggest Betting Firm, BET365, that runs ads during halftime commercial break in champions league matches in Europe. That is a very worrying sign indeed. At the end of the day, win or lose, the business venture is a win-win for the players, referees and the big whigs involved as is also suitably profitable enough for the betting firms. The addicted punters(“Teqwamerti’s“) are the only ones that get fleeced off their pockets while the government don’t necessarily put regulations to curb on it, so long as it continues to collect tax from such scam dealings. The end result is that competitiveness in Sport will eventually suffer as athletes might not even needing the use illegal doping in order to win when they can actually earn more from betting scams that have almost drowned the sport market.
With the quintessential regional footballing punchings bags, Somalia, Djibouti and Zanzibar already eliminated from each groups, one other country finishing as the worst 3rd placed team from their respective groups will inevitably join them this afternoon. With Sudan, as one of the better 3rd place team in its group with respect to the other groups pending, it has been confirmed to have advanced to the KO stage of the Quarter.
The last quarter final place is fought for by four countries (Kenya, Burundi, Uganda or Ethiopia). While Kenya chance is not in its hand after suspiciously losing its last group-B match, yesterday, against the group’s minnow Zanzibar, it will have to depend on results of the last group matches to be played later this afternoon between Uganda Vs Burundi (Group-B) and Ethiopia Vs Tanzania (Group-A), one after the other, respectively.
However, in the last few minutes, the region’s footballing powerhouse, Uganda, has just managed to overcome Burundi by a narrow 1-0 scoreline to top group B while, instead of Kenya, now Burundi has to wait for the result of the last group-A match underplay right now between the host Ethiopia and the group leader Tanzania.
Usually last group matches are supposed to be played at the same time so as to avoid match fixing and unfair advantages to teams in the same way as Austria and West Germany had conspired to fix a match in the 1982 world cup group qualifier by deliberately playing for a draw so as to get Algeria eliminated from group stage after it had finished its group matches including the emphatically beating West Germany 2-1.
FIFA had since changed the rules to make sure last group matches to be played exactly at the same time. That rule which had become effective for over three decades didn’t yet seem to have reached the CECAFA Camp. Not only are the matches being played at different times but also at different days. Lack of rules or if there is one, indeed, lack of teeth to implement them has, no doubt, dragged the region’s football to regress. If it indeed CECAFA had rules or teeth for that matter, the CECAFA chairman wouldn’t have been passive enough to agree with Ethiopia regime’s unsporting decision as reported on AJE, to “Bar Eritrea from the region’s CECAFA Cup” while later their federation gave conflicting message, as usual, saying “the report was erroneous“.
One way or another, Eritrea wouldn’t have taken part in the so called 38th CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup that is being held in Ethiopia for the simple reason that Eritrea wouldn’t give legitimacy to the regime there, that is egged by the US establishment, still continuing to illegally occupy Eritrean sovereign land, Badme, against the EEBC’s final and binding decision.
It was remembered that, following a guilt admission for money laundering, racketeering, bribery, tax evasion and wire-fraud, a former FIFA executive, Chuck Blazer of US had made a deal in a NY court to turn into a whistle blower and helped bust the FIFA. In a similar manner as the FBI had recently raided FIFA in Zurich, the CECAFA is one that is actually desperately in need of one of a hell of a raid indeed. Despite being more than four decades since its establishment, CECAFA’s progress has, however, been downwards like a carrot. Unless there is a proper reform, the football in the region will continue to regress backwards.
Now that Uganda and Kenya have confirmed their advance to the group stage, Burundi has to depend on the outcome of Ethiopia Vs Tanzania match. If Ethiopia draw or beat Tanzania then, as funny as it might sound, all the group A teams will advance for the KO stage except, of course, Somalia. However, if Tanzania beat Ethiopia, then all the Group-B teams, except Zanzibar, will advance for the quarter final place. Welcome to the CECAFA where anything eerie can happen.