Kilifi County sports department has criticized Harambee Starlets for omitting the Greece-based striker, expressing disappointment and questioning the selection decision
The County Government of Kilifi's Department of Youth Affairs and Sports has expressed its disappointment with the omission of Esse Akida from the Harambee Starlets squad for the crucial two-legged final round clash of the 2024 Africa Women's Cup of Nations (WAFCON) qualifiers against Botswana.
The decision has raised eyebrows among fans and supporters, as Akida had previously been a key player for Kenya in the earlier matches against Cameroon.
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Akida, the 31-year-old striker, who had made significant contributions to the team's success in the qualifiers, was conspicuously absent from the squad that was announced by the Football Kenya Federation last Sunday.
This unexpected move left many wondering about the rationale behind the Starlets' coaching staff's decision.
"In as much as we respect the decision made by Harambee Starlets to axe our very own, Mbeyu Essie Akida, from the national squad preparing for a two-legged final round clash against Botswana in the 2024 Africa Women's Cup of Nations(WAFCON) qualifiers, we are not pleased with this decision," stated the County Government of Kilifi in a released statement.
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The Greece-based forward is among the notable absentees from the Harambee Stars squad for 2024 WAFCON qualifier.
The statement went on to highlight Akida's outstanding performance at her Greece-based club, PAOK Thessaloniki, and emphasized the significance of her experience and knowledge of the game in such a crucial match.
It questioned the wisdom of dropping a player of her caliber, leaving more questions than answers in the minds of fans and observers.
"Mbeyu has been one of the standout players at her Greece-based club, PAOK Thessaloniki, and dropping her in a very crucial match with all her knowledge and experience of the game, raises more questions than answers," the statement added.
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The County Government of Kilifi did not hold back in expressing their pride and support for their local talent.
"To our daughter Mbeyu, keep your head held high and let your achievements speak for themselves because here in Kilifi, we are very proud of you and more so, for staying committed to your dreams even when things get tough," it concluded.
Esse Akida has been a prominent figure in the Kenyan women's national team for several years, and her talent was on full display when she scored a remarkable brace during her team's emphatic 8-0 victory over Sirines Grevenon on her birthday in the Greece top-flight league while representing PAOK Thessaloniki.
Kenya had secured their place in the third round of the qualifiers after a thrilling penalty shootout victory over Cameroon at Nyayo National Stadium in September.
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Akida played a crucial role in both legs of that encounter, even though her contributions may not have appeared impressive to the coaching staff.
Harambee Starlets are now gearing up for the first leg of the final round, which is scheduled to take place at home on Wednesday, November 29, 2023, with the return leg set for Tuesday, December 5, 2023, in Botswana.