VALENCIA, Spain, Aug 1- Harambee Starlets forward Esse Mbeyu Akida won plaudits after her performance in the team’s opening COTIF women tournament match against Portuguese champions Benfica in Valencia, Spain, the Spedag forward scoring all of Kenya’s goals in their 3-0 win.
Akida was singled out alongside midfielder Christine Nafula for their performances and speaking to Capital Sport from Valencia, the attacker described the win and performance by the team as ‘unbelievable’.
“We didn’t believe it after the match that we had beaten a team such as Benfica. They are the champions in their league and have so much experience compared to us. Tactically, technically and physically they are very good and beating them shows something about us. It was such a joy for everyone after the match,” Akida said.
On her performance; “I feel really pleased scoring three goals. I have been in good form in the league and as I said, I wanted to translate it to the national team and here we are now. It was a great day for all of us.” She added.
The team had a slow start to the match but settled in well especially after Akida’s opener. Team manager Doreen Nabwire told Capital Sport the team was tensed at the start but managed to settle in well, capitalizing on Benfica’s fatigue.
“It is the first time these girls play in such a high profile tournament and definitely, you would expect some nerves. Winning was a huge boost now let us see how we tackle the second match,” Nabwire said.
Kenya faces Espanyol on Tuesday evening and the team is upbeat from the confidence picked in the opening match, they will be more relaxed and will put their best. They will have a chance of watching their opponents on Monday night when they face the Portuguese champions in the second Group B game.
“We have a lot of confidence now after winning the first match and obviously we are less tensed up. We are going to see if we can go on and win this tournament. But we take each match at a time. Benfica is now done and we focus on Espanyol which we definitely expect to be a tougher match,” the forward added.
Kenya will only need a draw from the final group match to qualify for the semi finals but will be assured of toping the group if they win.
Espanyol won the Spanish top tier league in the 2005/2006 season and have won the domestic cup six times, the last time being in 2012. They finished ninth in the just concluded Primera Liga season.