NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 4 – Kenya’s Harambee Starlets will face off with Ghana in the third round of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualifier after the Black Queens thrashed Gabon 5-0 on aggregate following a 2-0 second leg victory in Accra on Tuesday.
The first leg will be held in Accra on September 30 with Kenya hosting the return fixture in Nairobi on October 4 for an opportunity to progress to the penultimate round of qualification.
Africa has one automatic slot in the Olympics with the winner of the tournament set to earn a ticket to Tokyo while the losing finalist will head to a play-off against the second placed team from the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL).
Starlets head coach David Ouma who side beat Malawi 5-3 on aggregate to qualify believes his young guns can go step by step in the competition saying he is pleased with the improvement and fighting spirit exhibited by his young guns.
“I am very pleased with how we have been able to cope with the pressure of the high level. We played superbly in the first leg against Malawi and in the return leg at home, we managed to deal with the pressure and execute our game plan,” Ouma stated.
“This is a young team and if you see how much we have developed, you can only be pleased. The work does not stop here because we need to work harder even in the third round. I am optimistic that if we can keep on working this way, we will go through,” the tactician further stated.
Ouma made massive changes to his squad, making a huge clear out of most of the senior players and integrated young untested talent, moist of who had just graduated from secondary school.
His decision has been vindicated with the girls going through their first international hurdle.
“This is always a revolving door and we are open to give as many chances as possible to new players. We have a lot of talent all over the country and anyone who shows they deserve to be here is always welcome,” he added.
Meanwhile, skipper Dorcas Shikobe, one of the few surviving faces from the previous squad claims that the current group is more determined and says the future for the team is bright.
“The difference between the other team and this one is that these young girls are ready to fight and give their all on the pitch. It was different with the other squad. These players are hungry to succeed and give everything on the pitch,” Shikobe added.
Starlets have never made it to the Olympics and the closest they came was Rio in 2016 when they lost to eventual winners South Africa in the penultimate stage.