Harambee Starlets boss Ouma urges his troops to embrace Olympics dream

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Friday, November 8th 2019 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Football
Harambee Starlets' Jereko Mwanalima controls the ball during an Olympic Qualifiers match at Kasarani on Tuesday Oct 8, 2019. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Harambee Starlets head coach David Ouma has urged his side to continue embracing their 2020 Tokyo Olympics dream as they clash with Zambia’s Shepolopolo in the first leg of the penultimate round of the qualifiers at Kasarani Stadium today (4pm).

Starlets, who overcame the odds to beat Ghana’s Black Queens 1-0 to book a date with Zambia, will once again look to capitalise on the home advantage ahead of Monday’s return leg in Lusaka.

The national team is beaming with a renewed sense of confidence after the government bailed them out last week. The Starlets had navigated the two-legged fourth round of the qualifiers without government’s support.

The winner on aggregate will battle with either Cameroon or Cote d'Ivoire in the final round, whose victors will qualify directly to next year’s global show-piece in Japan, while the loser will meet up with Chile in the inter-confederation play-offs.

Having guided the team to its first ever Africa Women Cup of Nations finals in 2016 in Cameroon, Ouma is confident of re-writing history with the current new-look squad.

“The players have portrayed great resilience in camp and I believe my team will do a good job. With the way we have been training, I think these ladies have what it takes to write another chapter in their already impressive history,” said Ouma after yesterday’s training session at Kasarani.

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“Zambia is a strong team with quality and more athletic players. But since it’s a back to back match, we need to very cautious, maximise on our strength and capitalise on our home advantage.”

Ouma’s sentiments were echoed by his captain Dorcas Shikobe who called on Kenyans to turn out in large numbers and cheer them.

Football Kenya Federation have waived the gate charges for the crucial game.

“Despite the minor setbacks faced by the team, our main focus is on the game. We have to score goals and defend well. But with the mood in camp, I’m confident we will do well. Let our fans come out in large numbers and push us,” said Shikobe.

Influential Thika Queens forward Mwanalima Adam, who was part of the historic Starlets side that made her debut at the 2016 AWCON finals in Cameroon, is already dreaming of the Olympics.

“We’ve had a few challenges but that will not stop us from achieving our dream. Just like the 2016 team, these group of players want to write their own history by representing the country in Japan,” said Adam.

“We are aware of the task lying ahead of us starting with tomorrow’s (today) game, but as a team we are more than ready to make Kenyans proud. We need to score as many goals as possible to have an advantage away. We are motivated and determined to ensure we get positive results.”

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