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Starlets eye AWCON after CECAFA triumph

Harambee Stars players line up before their CECAFA Women’s Championship Final against Tanzania at the Chamazi Complex in Dar Es Salaam on November 25, 2019. PHOTO/TFF/Twitter

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 27 – After their conquest at the 2019 CECAFA Women’s Championship, national women’s football team harambee Starlets are motivated more than ever to gun for their second appearance at the African Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) next year.

Starlets missed out on the 2018 edition by a whisker after losing out to Equatorial Guinea who were temporarily suspended, before being reinstated.

Head coach David Ouma believes that the team’s mental strength has been greatly built by the performance in Dar where the team clinched the title on an unbeaten run, scoring 24 goals and conceding none.

“We will try to keep on developing the mental attributes of the players, keep working on improving them and the team. We will keep a close eye on the AWCON, keep fighting because we have an equal chance,” Ouma stated.

Harambee Starlets striker Mwanahalima Adam vies for the ball with a Zambian opponent. PHOTO/FAZ

Striker Mwanahalima Adam who played a crucial role in the 2016 qualification but missed out on the tournament due to KCSE exams says she is personally motivated to ensure that the team makes a return to continental football.

“We have to get back to AWCON and this time we want to go back and do our best. I missed out in 2016 and though it was unavoidable, I was pained a bit. This time, I am motivated to do my best and help the team qualify,” Adam stated.

Meanwhile, head coach Ouma will feel vindicated by his decision to phase out most of the older and experienced players in favor of new and vibrant young blood.

The team not only delivered the first ever CECAFA title but also reached the last four of the African Olympic qualifiers, only losing to Zambia 3-2 in the penultimate round of qualification.

Ouma retained only a few players from the ‘old’ squad, notably skipper Dorcas Shikobe as well as midfielders Corazone Aquino and Sheryl Angachi.

Harambee Starlets head coach David Ouma gestures on the bench during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification match against Malawi at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on September 1, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

“It was all about giving an equal chance to new blood. We did the same with the squad that took us to AWCON in 2016. We gave them time to grow as a team and as at now, I don’t regret my decision,” he noted.

It has been a joyful ending to the year for Starlets as they not only won the CECAFA title but were nominated for the CAF Women’s team of the year award with Ouma being shortlisted in the coach of the year category.

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It is on these positives that Starlets hope to build on ahead of the AWCON qualifiers scheduled for next year.

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