NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 8- Harambee Starlets skipper Ann Aluoch admits the team is under pressure to perform well during the forthcoming CECAFA Women’s Championship in Jinja, Uganda, basing on their recent glowing results.
The team started off their revolution with a first time qualification to the African Cup of Nations thanks to their win over Algeria before building it with a 4-0 victory against Uganda Cranes in a friendly.
They went on to finish fourth in the COTIF invitational tournament in Spain after beating Portuguese champions Benfica 3-0 and Espanyol 3-1.
“There is expectation on us because of how we have been performing and of course it gives us pressure. But we know that we are capable of doing well and especially with the experience we picked in Spain, we are confident that we can go all the way to the final and win the tournament,” Aluoch told Capital Sport.
However, head coach David Ouma does not look at it as pressure, but a motivation for the team to give their best in Uganda.
“We have a motivation to do better because we have a benchmark from the previous performances. What we did in Spain showed our players have grown and are enjoying what they are doing. I would like to see my players growing.”
The team believes the experience picked up from Valencia in the COTIF tournament will be vital in their attempt to be the first ever winners of a CECAFA women championship.
“We managed to adapt to different kinds of game plans and formations because we faced different teams which played different tactics. That helped us grow and we feel we are better than we were before,” Aluoch said.
The coach has called up four debutants into the squad, two of them from the recently concluded East Africa School Games in Eldoret while the other two are from league sides.
Wiyeta Secondary School striker Judith Musimbi and Nyakach High School shot stopper Lilian Awuor were called up to the team’s camp in Nairobi alongside Makolanders centre-back Jackline Akot and Vihiga Queens midfielder Lilian Adera.
“There has been good level of competition from the school games as well as our league and now there’s a bigger field to get the players that I need. We have to ensure we get the best out of the country,” Ouma stated.
“From the Spain tournament, there are areas I picked out which we needed to improve on and that is what I have gone for. It’s going to be tough to settle on the final squad but I want to assure Kenyans we will take the best team to Uganda,” he added.
Starlets are in Group A alongside hosts Uganda, Burundi and Zanzibar and CECAFA Secretary General Nicholas Musonye said it was a deliberate decision to put them in a four-team group so as to give them a tougher test in preparations for the African Cup of Nations.
“They will play a minimum of six games if they go all the way to the final and we made it deliberate to have them in the four-team group. We are proud of them and their achievement and we want them to use this tournament to prepare for AFCON,” Musonye declared.
Group B will have three teams; Ethiopia, Tanzania and Rwanda.