Harambee Starlets battle Malawi in a crunch Olympic qualifier

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Sunday, September 1st 2019 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Football
Stakes are high heading into the match whose winner on aggregate will book a date with either Ghana or Gabon. [BONIFACE OKENDO, STANDARD]

There is some sense of optimism within Harambee Starlets camp as they aim to overturn their 3-2 Olympic qualifiers first leg deficit against Malawi’s She-Flames in today’s 3pm return match at Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos.

Though the match will be played behind closed doors after the continental football body, CAF temporarily approved the venue following the unavailability of Kasarani Stadium, the only internationally accredited venue in the country, the team is confident of making it to the next round of the competition.

Stakes are high heading into the match whose winner on aggregate will book a date with either Ghana or Gabon after the David Ouma-coached side put in a spirited performance to score two crucial away goals in Blantyre, on Wednesday.

Ouma has urged his charges to score early goals and tighten up at the back for them to progress to the third round.

“I must congratulate my players for spirited fight especially in the second half,” Ouma said.

“We will try to build the players' confidence to win it in Machakos since we have an away goal head start. We just need to keep it tight at the back and I am confident we can sail into the next round.”

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Even as midfielder Corazone Aquino bemoaned the absence of their home fans in the stadium, she is still optimistic the team will overturn the first leg deficit in Machakos.

“It is very unfortunate that we will have to play without the support of our fans, who are always influential. But we are all motivated by our performance in Blantyre. The girls played their hearts out and managed to get those two vital away goals,” Aquino said.

“This match is far from over, but being at home and with away goals we have an advantage even before kick off. We need to go all attack and score early goals.

"If we play the way we did in second half in the first leg, I am confident we will go through. We have enough quality in the team to win the match,” Aquino added.

But it will not be a walk in the park for the Starlets as Malawi coach Abel Mkandawire has promised to deploy an attacking approach tomorrow.

Mkandawire will once again bank on the Chiwanga siblings (Tabitha and Temwa) to trouble the Kenyan back line.

 “There is no way we are going to sit back and wait for them to attack. The best way to defend in football is to attack and that’s exactly what we are going to do. We will attack from the first whistle until the end,” Mkandawire said.

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