Proud Kenyan girls now ready to take on the world

Kenya's girls U18 football team after finishing second in the International Schools Federation (ISF) Football World Cup. [Courtesy]

In their wildest of dreams, Kenya's team to the International Schools Federation (ISF) Football World Cup in Dalian City, China could not have thought to making it to the podium.

That they eventually won silver in their debut at the tournament speaks of a team destined for greatness.

The country outdid itself, striking silver in the girls' U18 category after a hard-fought battle against the hosts.

The sides battled to a 1-1 draw in regulation before Kenyans lost 6-4 on post-match penalties.

In the semis, Kenya stunned Brazil 3-1. This sweet victory was preceded by a flawless show in the group stages where Kenya piped England 2-1, edged Germany 1-0 before drawing 2-2 with their African compatriots Ghana to top their pool of death with seven points.

On the driving seat towards this heroic journey was captain Vidah Okeyo. The prolific central defender has termed their outing in China as epic and a great eye opener.

As the heroic squad jetted back into the country yesterday, Okeyo heaped praises on her charges.

“China was a marvelous visit, everyone in the team gave their best. The players stretched beyond their limits. Reaching the prestigious finals was no mean feat,” she said.

“The ISF tournament was not a walk in the park. We went full throttle because we were focused on bringing glory to the country. Apart from the game, we learnt a lot from our peers from other nations, especially on education and cultural exchange.”

The Butere Girls football ace reiterated that the China showpiece was quite demanding when  compared with their outing at the Costa Daurada Cup in Spain in March where they also finished second.

“I think all schools adequately prepared for the ISF tournament. Every side in China was dreaming and gunning for the coveted world title, so finishing second among 35 nations is quite an achievement,” she said.

Head coach Maurice Okumu praised her girls for their feat in China, saying the country started the football extravaganza as underdogs.

“Most opponents in our pool underrated us, but we stung back with upsets. We glowed as the tournament proceeded. We played well and we are happy that we surprised big teams. I’m glad we showed the world that Kenya is also something else in matters football,” Okumu said.

Okumu added that bagging silver at the ISF Football World Cup is a testament to what identification and nurturing of talent can do to a country like Kenya.

Kenyan boys who lifted the Costa Daurada trophy in March started the ISF Football World Cup on a good note, finishing second in their pool. However, their good run was halted by Qatar in the quarters.

The boys eventually finished 15th overall out of 35 nations in the tournament.

By AFP 35 mins ago
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