NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 22- Defending champions Nigeria, Ghana and Mali lay in wait for Kenya’s Harambee Starlets when they land in Yaoundé, Cameroon for their African Women’s Cup of Nations debut in November.
But despite the challenge expected from the West African trio, the Kenyan girls don’t seem to flip an eyelid when they think of their opponents with a semi-final target capped below their feet.
“What gives me motivation is the story of David in the Bible. With only a sling and a stone, he brought down Goliath,” confident Mary Kinuthia, who is the field captain, said.
The skipper believes the experience they have gathered over the last two months playing in the COTIF tournament in Spain as well as reaching the final of the CECAFA Women’s championship has earned them enough confidence to aim their sling at the top dogs of African women football.
“We have learnt so much because we played some of the best European teams in Spain then some of the best in the region in Uganda. Some lessons have been painful, like losing to Tanzania in the final, but we have grown out of it. We now focus on the Cup of Nations,” the soft spoken, but lethal forward added.
Her sentiments were shared by team-mate Esse Akida who has been crowned top scorer in both tournaments, hitting the back of the net five times in each competition.
Akida, who plays for FKF Women Premier League leaders Spedag FC, has cast her eyes on spreading her goal scoring form to Yaoundé but she believes the team’s success will only be achieved with good preparation.
“Nothing is impossible. We know it is tough and from the moment we qualified, we expected to face tough sides because the tournament represents the best in Africa. But with the growth we have had and good preparations, we can make it,” Akida noted.
Head coach David Ouma expects to have a month long training program before the tournament and in between, friendly matches at home to Cameroon and away to Morocco have been organized.
“I think the most essential thing for us is to play friendly matches against teams better than us and I am happy we have managed to secure the two. We are planning to get into a four-week training camp and this will help us address the issues and flaws we have picked out from the COTIF and CECAFA championships,” Ouma noted.
Among the areas he intends to improve is the girls’ mental and physical strength.
He has also hinted he will be scouting for more creative players pointing this out as an area the team has been struggling in.
Meanwhile, Ouma says he will consider team manager Doreen Nabwire for an active playing role in Cameroon after she made return to the team for the first time since 2012 during the CECAFA Championship in Uganda.
“She (Doreen) is a player like any other despite the fact she is a team manager. She is very creative and might come in handy for us but we are currently working on her fitness levels because she had stayed out for a while due to injury,”
“CECAFA was a measure point for her to see if she has anything to offer the team and for me as a coach, I was convinced she has something to offer. Her creativity was great especially in the first three games when she set up goals for our strikers,” Ouma said.