Greece-based striker's snub from Botswana match sparks powerful response with stunning birthday brace and a renewed club contract.
Greece-based striker Esse Akida has expressed her feelings about being omitted from the Harambee Starlets squad for the two-legged final round clash of the 2024 Africa Women's Cup of Nations (WAFCON) qualifiers against Botswana.
In what appeared to be a reaction, Akida, who plies her trade for POAK in the Greece top-flight league, showcased her talent with a remarkable brace during her team's emphatic 8-0 victory over Sirines Grevenon on her birthday.
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The 31-year-old forward had previously started in Kenya's matches against Cameroon in the previous round but was conspicuously absent from the squad announced by the Football Kenya Federation on Sunday.
Akida did not let the disappointment get the best of her as she celebrated her birthday in style, delivering a stunning performance on the pitch.
After the match, she took to social media to share her thoughts, saying, "Happy to have bagged a brace against Sirina Grevena yesterday. What a way to cap my birthday."
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Akida, who had previously started for Kenya in the previous round of matches against Cameroon, was conspicuously missing from the squad released by the Football Kenya Federation on Sunday.
Her omission left fans and supporters wondering about the decision by the Starlets' handlers.
While Akida may have missed out on the upcoming national team action, several familiar faces from the previous squad that faced Cameroon have been retained.
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Notable returnees include Mercyline Wayodi of Vihiga Queens and Lorna Nyarinda of FK Apolonia Fier.
Joining the squad for the first time are promising talents such as goalkeeper Mishi Mbaru from Kenya Police Bullets, defender Centrine Wasike from Bungoma Queens, and forwards Rebecca Okwaro and Nancy Atako, both from Kenya Police Bullets and Kibera Soccer Ladies, respectively.
Additionally, the Ulinzi Starlets duo of Joy Kinglady and Fasila Odhiambo have graduated to the senior team from Rising Starlets.
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The former Thika Queens forward is currently shining in Greece with PAOK but she would not have been there had she not overcome a tough spell in Israel.
Esse Akida's continued success comes on the heels of her contract renewal with POAK in June, securing her services for another year.
Originally signing a two-year deal with the club, POAK opted to trigger the option for an additional year, a testament to her outstanding performances on the pitch.
POAK marks the third European club that Akida has represented, following stints with Ramat HaSharon in Israel and Besiktas JK in Turkey.
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Her journey to success also includes domestic spells with Thika, Matuu FC, and Spedag FC.