Harambee Starlets seek to make amends as they arrive in Tanzania for regional event
Harambee Starlets will have to pick themselves up and make amends after they were bundled out of the 2020 Olympic qualifiers in the hands of Zambia as they immediately shift focus to Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) Women’s Championship set to kick-off on Saturday in Tanzania.
The team which did not break camp, arrived in Dar-es-Salaam yesterday, a few hours after returning from Lusaka and will be hoping to rectify mistakes witnessed against Zambia where they lost 1-0 in the return leg match on Monday.
At the regional event, Starlets has been pooled in group B alongside last year’s runners-up Uganda, third place finishers Ethiopia, and Djibouti with group A comprised of defending champions Tanzania, Burundi, Zanzibar, and South Sudan who are making their debut in the competition.
The number of participants is an improvement from the 2018 event held in Kigali, Rwanda where only five teams took part, forcing organisers to use a round-robin format.
Kenya hopes to improve on a dismal show in the Kigali event where they finished at a lowly fourth place compared to the previous edition where they had finished runners-up.
In Kigali, David Ouma’s charges won just one match, a 2-0 victory against hosts Rwanda. The team later lost 1-0 to Uganda before losing with a similar margin to Ethiopia and later sharing spoils with holders Tanzania who eventually defended their title succesfully.
“We came so near yet so far in the Olympics Qualifiers but that gives us an increasing urge to do better at the regional competition. Our last seven matches (including the friendly match against Ethiopia) have shown that we have a good team cohesion. The experience has given us a positive mindset and the set back of the Qualifiers will push us to do better. The teams in the region are getting competitive but we know we have a chance,” said coach Ouma.
Kenya begins her campaign with a tie against Ethiopia on Sunday, before facing Djibouti on Tuesday and wrap up the group stage matches against Uganda. The top two teams from each group will proceed to the semi-final stage of the championship.
Starlets will be hoping to replicate the results of the August friendly match against Ethiopia, where they won 3-2, as it will kick start their title campaign on a high. Starlets will be treading on unfamiliar territory against Djibouti.
“Uganda and Ethiopia are familiar to us but we have not played Djibouti before. We have a chance to see them in action before our fixture and that will help us prepare better,” added Ouma.