05 June 2018 09:46
Kenya women’s national football team coach David Ouma is confident the side can progress to a second consecutive African Women’s Cup of Nations ahead of their ultimate qualifier against Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday.
Starlets play the first leg at home at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos and will face the West Africans three days later at their backyard and a win over the two legs will mean the team qualifies for the continental showpiece to be staged in Ghana in November.
“We are really motivated ahead of this game because we know what it means to play in the biggest stage. We have prepared well having been in camp for the last one month and we are confident we can win this game and pick a ticket to the Cup of Nations,” Ouma, who guided the team to their first ever continental appearance in Cameroon two years ago said.
He admits it will not be an easy tie against the Nzalang Nacional who have won the AWCON twice in 2008 and 2012, finishing second in between in 2010 and qualified for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“They are a very experienced team because if you look at all their achievements, that does not come easy. We know we are going to face a very tough side but mentally, I think my girls have really grown. They will not be under pressure. The first thing is to make sure we win at home,” Ouma further noted.
Starlets qualified for the final qualification round after seeing off neighbors Uganda She Cranes 1-0 on aggregate. They won the first leg in Machakos by a solitary goal and picked up a barren draw in the corresponding fixture in Kampala.
Ouma notes that there has been great improvement since then especially in the finishing which proved to be a weakness against the Ugandans. The team had a final warm up match against Women League leaders Thika Queens, winning 5-0, a result that boosted the coach’s confidence that they have marked some improvement.
“I am satisfied with how much we have improved tactically in creating chances and scoring. In training and during the match against Thika I have seen sufficient possibility that we can create and score many chances. We have worked to polish the midfield areas and I am confident we are ready for the game on Wednesday,” the coach noted.
Meanwhile, captain Wendy Achieng has issued a rallying call to the fans to turn out in large numbers and cheer them on as they look to qualify for the Cup of Nations.
Achieng was integral in Starlets’ qualification for their first showpiece in 2016 and is optimistic they can repeat the feat and go to Ghana and do better.
“When we qualified in 2016, the fans really turned up and motivated us. We also ask them to do the same this time. We have trained really well and everyone is confident. We promise the fans we won’t let them down,” added the left back.