NAIROBI, April 11- Harambee Starlets head coach David Ouma has retained his starting lineup that held Algeria to a 2-2 draw away in Algiers ahead of Tuesday’s 2016 Africa Cup of Nations return leg in the final qualifier at Safaricom Kasarani Stadium.
Starlets are one match away from making history as the first Kenyan women’s team to qualify for the Nations Cup and they just need at least a goalless draw in the second-leg to book a ticket to the finals scheduled for Cameroon in November.
“History is in sight for us and that is a big motivation already. We want to be the first ever Kenyan girls to play at the African Cup of Nations. We know we have the advantage and we want to make good use of it,” assistant captain Mary Kinuthia said after the team’s recovery training session at the match venue Monday morning.
The team was heading for a historic win after rallying from behind to lead 2-1 but a last minute equalizer earned Algeria some hopes in the return leg.
They came up against an experienced Algerian side that has been to four Women’s AFCON, but Kinuthia disclosed they had to fight until the end to ensure they stay on course to fulfilling their dream.
“We knew we were going to meet a tough and experienced side which has players playing in Europe, but we motivated ourselves knowing we could upset them. It was only unfortunate to concede in the last minute but even the draw was not a bad result,” the striker added.
Algeria captain Fatima Sekouane scored a 78th minute own goal to hand Kenya a lifeline into the match with high school sensation Mwanahalima Adam scoring the second in the 85th minute before Bouhane found the leveler for Algeria in the 89th minute.
Adam will be aiming to score in front of home fans, outlining that their target is to win the tie and not a draw.
“We must show them that we are also a tough team and they can’t beat us at home. We can’t afford to lose and having scored away, I also must score at home. I have hope we will qualify for AFCON,” Mwanahalima warned.
Ouma will be without midfielder Elizabeth Mwikali, who picked up a knock on the hip in the first-leg but he will be boosted with the return of Jacky Ogol who missed the trip to Algeria with a knee injury.
Dorcas Shikobe and Wendy Achieng have also managed to shake off knocks on their ankles and trained well with the rest of the team.
With Football Kenya Federation waiving entry charges for the clash, Ouma has called on fans to come out in large numbers and cheer them up.
“The results previously have not been good but tomorrow (Tuesday) we have a chance and fans should come and support the Starlets because that’s the only way they can motivate the girls. We promise not to disappoint them,” Ouma urged.