By: ISAAC SWILA
A daunting task awaits Harambee Starlets on Sunday when they take on South Africa’s Banyana Banyana in the second leg of the Olympic qualifiers at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos.
David Ouma’s Starlets, who lost 1-0 in the first leg in Johannesburg a fortnight ago, need to score two unanswered goals to qualify for the third and final round of the qualifiers.
The Kenyan team shifted base to Machakos yesterday after a week-long training camp at the Nyayo National Stadium and Ouma believes that his girls have what it takes to overcome their much fancied opponents.
“This is a crucial game but we have had good preparations. The girls are focused and the support has been great,” he said. “We just want to go to the game and do our job. We know what is at stake and the aim is to qualify.”
He added: “We are calling on fans to come in large numbers to support the team.”
LOW GATE CHARGES
In a bid to attract fans, Football Kenya Federation has opted for low gate charges with main stand tickets retailing at Sh100 while the terrace ones go for Sh50.
Ouma at the same time said that ruthlessness in front of goal will be key for her charges who did fairly well to limit the South Africans to a slim victory in Johannesburg.
Caroline Anyango and experienced Tabaka Chacha are expected to claim starting positions after recovering from knocks.
Besides the duo, Ouma has also recalled custodian Samantha Akinyi, to help beef up the goalkeeping department.
Meanwhile, the South Africans – who jetted into the country on Thursday night – had a feel of the pitch on Friday behind closed doors before completing their work-out on Saturday.
For the visitors, a draw of any kind would be enough to take them through to the final stage of the qualifiers where either Congo or Equatorial Guinea lie in wait.
Banyana Banyana’s captain Janine van Wyk stressed the importance of having a good game plan but predicted a tough duel.
“We know we have quite a bit of pressure on us, but it is good pressure because if we had won by a big margin, we would have been complacent and that is very dangerous. Yes, the first leg victory puts us a step ahead but it also means we need to be alert because they (Kenya) are going to come out very strong,” she said.
“We know it is a very important match for us and hopefully we can get a good result – get an early goal so that we play our own game.”
Goalkeepers: Pauline Atieno,Vivian Akinyi,Samantah Akinyi
Defenders: Anne Aluoch,Irene Ogutu,Dorcas Sikose,Kethy Akumu,Maurine Achieng
Midfielders: Harriet Bwire,Esse Akida,Cheris Salano,Mary Wanjiku ,Tabaka Chacha.Caroline Kiget
Strikers: Neddy Atieno,Enez Mango,Sharon Aluoch,Carolyne Anayngo.Veronica Wafula