Harambee Starlets eye convincing victory over Botswana in WAFCON qualifiers


FOOTBALL Harambee Starlets eye convincing victory over Botswana in WAFCON qualifiers

Festus Chuma 05:45 - 29.11.2023

Harambee Starlets seek victory against Botswana in WAFCON qualifiers, aiming to shine on the African stage with home advantage.

Harambee Starlets are gearing up to make the most of their home advantage as they prepare to face Botswana in a crucial clash at Nyayo National Stadium on Wednesday.

The encounter marks the first leg of the 2024 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations final round of qualifiers, with the return leg scheduled to take place in Gaborone a week later.

Having spent the past week in intensive preparation, Starlets are eager to secure a convincing victory over Botswana.

The stakes are high, as the team that emerges victorious on aggregate will earn a coveted spot in the finals to be held in Morocco.

In the previous round, Harambee Starlets defied all odds to eliminate Cameroon, emerging triumphant in a dramatic post-match penalty shootout after the tie ended 1-1 on aggregate during regular time.

Botswana, on the other hand, displayed their dominance by crushing Gabon 10-1 on aggregate to set up this showdown with Starlets.

Recognizing the significance of home advantage, Football Kenya Federation, in collaboration with the government, has generously waived gate charges for the match, set to kick off at 3pm.

Starlets' head coach, Beldine Odemba, acknowledges the pivotal role played by fans in their victory over Cameroon at Nyayo Stadium and hopes that the home crowd will provide that extra motivation for her team on Wednesday.

"If we manage to beat Botswana both at home and away, we automatically earn a slot in the 2024 WAFCON tournament," said Odemba.

"It's also a golden opportunity for our players to showcase their talent on a bigger stage because, in football, visibility translates to more opportunities. I urge our fans to come out in full support, we truly need you, and I believe you will not let us down."

In a show of confidence and support, Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba has pledged a substantial cash reward of Sh.5 million for the Kenyan Queens should they triumph over Botswana in this two-legged affair and secure their place in WAFCON.

While many consider Botswana a relatively easier opponent compared to Cameroon, Starlets are approaching this challenge with caution.

Botswana made their maiden appearance in the WAFCON just last year in Morocco, where they impressed by reaching the quarter-finals of the tournament.

Adding to the intrigue, Botswana's squad boasts several professional players, including a goalkeeper who has tasted success in the CAF Champions League with Mamelodi Sundowns.

Odemba, who had initially called up 29 players for training last week, is expected to finalize her squad for the crucial encounter.

Notable inclusions making a comeback include former Vihiga Queens captain Mercyline Wayodi and FK Apolonia Fier’s Lorna Nyarinda.

Additionally, France-based Lilian Awuor and the prolific Marjolen Nekesa, who has been scoring prolifically in both the UEFA Champions League and the Czech Republican league, return after missing the Cameroon tie.

All eyes will also be on the young talents of Joyking Lady and Fasila Adhiambo, who were part of the U20 team, as they vie for spots in the final lineup.

However, Starlets will be without the services of the China-based Jentrix Shikangwa, who is sidelined due to injury. 

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