Harambee Starlets head Ouma heaps praise on his youthful team

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Tuesday, September 3rd 2019 at 10:58 GMT +3 | Football
Harambee Starlet's Cynthia Shilwato drible ball past Salome Vinkhumbo of Malawi during olympic qualifier return leg match at Kenyatta Stadium. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Harambee Starlets head coach David Ouma has praised his new-look national team after they produced a sensational comeback to trounce Malawi’s She-Flames 3-0 in Sunday’s return leg match in Machakos.

The win saw Kenya progress to the third round of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Qualifiers.

Diminutive Thika Queens forward Mwanalima Adam bagged a late second half brace to ensure Kenya qualifies to the next round of the competition with a 5-3 on aggregate scoreline following their 3-2 defeat in Blantyre last week. 

Instrumental midfielder Cynthia Shilwatso, who was also on target in Blantyre, gave Starlets an early lead.

The Starlets will meet with today’s winner between giants Ghana and Gabon in Accra, in the next stage. Ghana beat Gabon 3-0 in the first leg.

Ouma had been heavily criticised after he overlooked the experienced players led by Israel-based attacker Esse Akida, former captain Wendy Achieng, Neddy Atieno and Mary Kinuthia for youthful players.

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But having secured a third round ticket in an emphatic fashion behind closed doors, Ouma’s decision to keep faith in the youngsters appears to have started paying off.

“We were determined and committed from the first whistle. We had some fears at the beginning of the second half, but we managed to hold on and won the match,” said Ouma.

“I want to thank my players for their spirited fight and earning themselves a chance to play in the next round. But they need to continue developing their mental strength at this level.

“We have enormous talent in the country, what we need to do is to continue investing in scouting and developing these talents. Yes, we’ve a young team but everybody has to fight for her position because it’s a revolving door to everyone.”

Reflecting on the team’s comeback on Sunday, the former Sofapaka and Posta Rangers tactician said: “Strong teams are always analysed on their comebacks. It was difficult for us to make a comeback in Malawi, but with our mental strength I believed we would overturn the deficit here.

“It was a game of chances and I’m glad we made it possible. Our defensive organisation was perfect, kept it tight and took our chances; that’s how we won it.”

His sentiments were echoed by captain and Oserian defender Dorcas Shikobe.

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