The tournament received Sh823 million (approximately $450,000) sponsorship from Serengeti Breweries Limited which covered the fees of the tournament such as the air tickets of all delegates, accommodations and prize money to name a few. The competition was therefore known as the CECAFA Tusker Challenge Cup 2011.
The Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) General Secretary Nicholas Musonye said that over 10 football associations applied to play as a guest team in the tournament. Out of all the applicants, the final shortlist was trimmed to four; Côte d'Ivoire, Malawi, South Africa and Zambia. However the Confederation of African Football (CAF) stated that Côte d'Ivoire and Zambia were not eligible to play in the competition as they had qualified for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. Teams are not able to compete in another competition within a two-month period of the Africa Cup of Nations.
The invite was eventually extended to Malawi. However, it was then reported that they withdrew, citing financial constraints and lack of preparation time due to the late invite. Zimbabwe had then been invited to replace them but the Malawian government told the Football Association of Malawi to reconsider their participation in the tournament as they along with CECAFA will shoulder their expenses.
Eritrea were initially scheduled to participate but withdrew due to lack of funds and were replaced with Namibia. It was suggested by some media outlets that Eritrean authorities were mindful of players attempting to seek political asylum whilst in Tanzania. Namibia eventually turned down the invitation, stating that it would disrupt the Namibia Premier League schedule. They were replaced by Zimbabwe.