NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 2 – Harambee Starlets head coach David Ouma says he will eye to give his young side more experience as he leads the girls out to Turkey for an invitational tournament as they start preparations for the 2020 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations qualifiers to start next month.
Starlets leave the country early Tuesday morning for Istanbul and Ouma will carry with him a hugely inexperienced squad for the tourney.
“I think it is going to be a very good opportunity for us to face stronger countries to give us more experience and to help the players grow. We have many new players in the team and this will be their chance to learn what it means to play for the national team,” Ouma told Capital Sport.
The tactician will be without Ruth Ingotsi, Annete Kundu and Corazone Aquino who have all been left out to concentrate on cementing their places in their new clubs while Cynthia Shilwatso is working to complete her move to Spain.
In their absence, Ouma will look on to the experience of skipper Dorcas Shikobe, Mwanahalima Adam, Sheryl Angachi and Mercy Airo to spur the team on.
In his final travelling squad, Ouma has included 17-year old Jane Njeri who has starred for Nyahururu based side Falling Waters during the last two editions of the Chapa Dimba na Safaricom tournament as well as Acakoro’s Sylvia Makhungu who he scouted during the Nairobi region finals.
Ouma is however worried with the fitness levels of the girls, though he said they have worked hard to ensure they get to shape over the past one week of training.
“The league is set to start next week and most of the players had not picked much physically and this has been like their pre-season. But we will have to learn on the job and work hard during the tournament,” Ouma stated.
He added; “We played three friendly matches against boys’ teams over the weekend and though we didn’t win any, the matches have given us a picture of where we are and what we need to improve on. I think we are better heading to Turkey,” the tactician noted.
Starlets will face off with Northern Ireland on Wednesday, Chile on Saturday and Uzbekistan on Tuesday next week. Hungary, Venezuela, Hong Kong, Romania, and Turkmenistan are also expected to make an appearance at the tournament.
Meanwhile, Ouma has heaped praise on Chapa Dimba Central region MVP Mariam Lutomia who was a late call up to the team saying she showed great qualities and will be part of his squad in the long term.
“She is a very good player and although she started slow, I think I was really impressed with her. Her command of the ball, distribution and dead ball speciality really attracted me. I have told her what she needs to work on and definitely she will be part of the team for the qualifiers,” Ouma stated.
Goalkeepers; Judith Osimbo (Gaspo Youth), Monica Odato (Wadadia), Stella Anolo (Zetech Sparks)
Defenders; Vivian Nasaka (Vihiga Queens), Lucy Akoth (Mathare United), Nelly Sawe (Thika Queens), Foscah Nashivanda(Zetech Sparks), Dorcas Shikobe (Oserian), Dorcas Shiveka (Eldoret Falcons), Lydia Akoth (Thika Queens)
Midfielder; Silvia Makhungu (Kariobangi North), Sheryl Angach (Gaspo), Jentrix Shikangwa (Wiyeta Girls), Janet Bundi (Eldoret Falcons), Rachael Muema (Thika Queens), Mercy Airo (Kisumu All Starlets), Topistar Situma (Vihiga Queens)
Forwards; Mwanalima Adam (Thika Queens), Stella Anyango (Nakuru All-Stars), Purity Anyetu (Zetech Sparks), Jane Njeri (Falling Waters)