NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 17 – Harambee Starlets head coach David Ouma says the side is ready for the big kick-off on Sunday night when they face Ghana’s Black Queens in their first match of the 2016 African Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) in Cameroon.
The team has been camping in the seaside city of Limbe for the last 10 days and Ouma has switched the training sessions to evening to ensure the girls get used to playing under floodlights before Sunday’s game.
“During the COTIF tournament we played our semi final match under floodlights and I don’t think it will be much of a problem. Just to ensure we are 100 percent okay, we have decided to train at night so that we get fully used to it,” Ouma told Capital Sport from Limbe.
“The players are adapting well despite the high humidity we are experiencing in Limbe. I have tried to regulate the training sessions to ensure the players have enough energy for our first match,” he added.
Starlets will be playing at the AWCON for the first time in their history and Ouma insists they are still pegging their hopes on getting into the semi finals.
“It is such an honor for me to lead this team into the tournament for the first time ever. We still have our targets which we will work on step by step and taking a match at a time. The mood within the team is that we should put our best foot forward in each and every game and we showcase our talent for the whole continent to see,” Ouma said.
He admits he still has a headache over the forward line especially with the last minute withdrawal of striker Neddy Atieno who left to join the Kenya Defence Forces.
“It’s something that is still giving me a headache but I have been trying to work out different combinations with Esse (Akida), Corazone (Aquino) and Christine (Nafula). I am sure by Sunday I will have picked the best for the team.”
Meanwhile, teams have already started arriving in Limbe and Yaoundé, the two venues for the Nations Cup. Kenya’s opponents Ghana and Nigeria have already touched down in Douala.
Black Queens Coach Yussif Basigi speaking to peacefmonline.com has hinted his side, just like Kenya will be gunning for a semi final slot.
“We are trying to discard all factors that can affect performance and results and aim at our target. I don’t want to put unnecessary pressure on the players but we are definitely aiming at qualifying to the semi-finals.”
Defending champions, Nigeria are also confident of a good show in Cameroon.
The team includes Arsenal superstar Asisat Oshoala and United States based attacking midfielder Francesca Ordega who is confident the Falcons will defend their title.
“The goal for us is that we want to retain the Cup in Cameroon. Not just to participate, but to win and return the trophy back home. I am impressed with what I have seen since I arrived in camp,” Ordega told News 24 Nigeria.
Ordega has represented Nigeria at all levels, featuring at the 2010 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago and with the U20 at 2012 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in Japan.
At senior level, she played at the FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments of 2011 and 2015.