NAIROBI, April 1- Harambee Starlets head coach David Ouma is worried with his team’s fitness level ahead of their final 2016 African Women Cup of Nations first-leg qualifier match away to Algeria next Friday.
The girls have not been involved in any competitive action since last year and this has been a point of concern for Ouma as he prepares them for the huge battle in North Africa.
“It is very worrying because if I look at them now, their fitness levels are not where I would want them to be. Algeria play quick short passes and we need to be fit to battle against them. I will be happy if the Federation sets up women league structures,” Ouma told Capital Sport.
“But so far so good. I am working on them and hopefully before we travel we will be full to fitness,” he added.
Starlets got a bye into the last qualifying round after Democratic Republic of Congo pulled out due to financial constraints.
Algeria on the other hand played against Ethiopia, beating them 2-1 on aggregate to book a date with Kenya.
Skipper Ann Aluoch says the girls are motivated by the fact that they are two matches away from booking a ticket for their first women’s Nations Cup in Cameroon later this year.
Despite entering the clash as underdogs, she has outlined they can pull a surprise.
“We know it is going to be tough. Algeria beat Ethiopia, a team that beat us 5-0 two years ago and that means they are stronger. We don’t expect an easy match but looking at the fact we are only two matches away, we are motivated enough to give our all,” the skipper affirmed.
-Blend of youth and experience-
The team has received a major blow with Uganda based forward Millicent Mwanzia ruled out with an ankle injury.
The striker has been in fine form for her Ugandan outfit Lady Cardinals and has so far scored 11 goals in the league.
Also set to miss the tie is midfielder Jacky Ogol who has picked up a knee injury.
“Mwanzia is a good and experienced finisher and it will be a blow missing her in the first leg. However, I am hoping she will have recovered in time for the return leg here at home,” Ouma opined.
The coach will be privileged starting away from home and he says his strategy at the worst will be pushing for a scoring draw.
“In these home and away competitions, an away goal is the most important thing. The least we want to get away from home is a scoring draw. A single goal will put us hugely in the driving seat and that is our simple strategy.”
Ouma has put in a blend of youth and experience in the squad with veteran Martha Karimi recalled alongside youngsters Viviane Corazon and Mwanalima Adam, who shone in last year’s East Africa school games in Huye, Rwanda.
“It is such a privilege for me at this tender age to be called to the senior national team. I want to work hard and see if I can make it into the final travelling squad. It is a huge challenge playing against Algeria in the qualifiers but we are looking at the possibility of beating them and qualifying for AFCON,” Corazon said.
The Starlets are scheduled to depart on Wednesday next week for Algiers to honor the first leg tie.