NAIROBI, April 25- National women football team Harambee Starlets have landed an invite for a tournament in Valencia, Spain from July 31 to August 4, Football Kenya Federation CEO Robert Muthomi has confirmed.
The team which recently booked a ticket to the African Women Cup of Nations for the first time is looking to prepare well for their maiden bow in the tournament in Cameroon and Muthomi believes the tournament will help them to get the necessary experience and exposure.
“We hope we can be able to confirm in the next few weeks. It’s a good tournament, a good test for our women and will also help us check where we are as we prepare for the African championship,” Muthomi told Capital Sport.
The same sentiments were echoed by team manager Doreen Nabwire who said the girls need that exposure to prepare them for the tournament.
“We are going to the Cup of Nations as underdogs and definitely we need to ensure we are prepared well to face the big names in Africa. It will be very important for us to go to the tournament in Spain and gauge ourselves with the best. Last year, Namibia’s Under-20 team was invited and it helped them a lot as they went for the Africa U20 championship,” Nabwire said.
The retired footballer has also disclosed she is using her links in Germany having played in the top two tiers of the German leagues to help Starlets get a two-week training camp there.
“I am talking to a few people there and see whether it will be possible to get a training camp and play with two or three teams there as well as get some technical sharpening from the top coaches. Hopefully we can nail it and head there from Spain,” Nabwire added.
Within the continent, Starlets are also looking at playing friendly matches against Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Zambia or Namibia
“The good thing is at least now the women have their own international friendly dates. We are talking to some federations and have written letters as well so before Cameroon, these girls should be able to get very good friendly matches,” Muthomi said.
He has also disclosed the girls might have a two week training camp in Morocco before the tournament which begins on November 19 to December 3rd.
“We have spoken to the Moroccan ambassador and through him we’ve asked to work on this. They are looking at the probabilities and then refer back to us. The team should be there for two weeks for training and a few build up matches then fly direct to the championship,” Muthomi said.
At the same time, the women’s Premier League is set to begin on May 14 and the federation has already asked all clubs set to participate in the two-tier league to confirm their participation. Nabwire said it would be great to finally have the league running as it will give the girls competitive play time.
“Fitness has been our biggest impediment because these girls haven’t played a league match for a very long time. Having them play week in week out will help them keep and maintain the fitness so it is a good thing to have the league up and running,” Nabwire told Capital Sport.
Kenya’s Starlets will be faced with a humongous task in Cameroon as they will square it out with hosts Cameroon who have reached the tournament’s final thrice, record champions Nigeria who have played in all AWCON tournaments, Egypt, Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea.