By: ISAAC SWILA
Harambee Starlets head coach David Ouma is hopeful that his charges will turn the tables on South Africa’s Banyana Banyana and advance to the final round of the Olympic qualifiers.
The Starlets confront Banyana Banyana on Sunday at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos, and Ouma is not leaving anything to chance ahead of this crucial game.
The visitors carry a slim 1-0 advantage from the first leg, but Ouma, who has been polishing his girls’ finishing skills in intense work-outs at the Nyayo National Stadium, expects nothing short of a win.
“So far everything is fine. We are all set for the match. We have a job to do, to turn the tables and qualify for the next round,” he said. “We have been working on our finishing skills. We did not get an away goal which would have worked to our advantage, but we have to go to the game and try to score early,” he said.
Starlets received a major boost after Caroline Anyango and Tabaka Chacha, who had all picked knocks, resumed training. Their experience, according to Ouma, will help lift the team spirit. Ouma has also beefed up his goalkeeping department by recalling Samantha Akinyi, while Maurine Shimuli and Jennifer Nyangaresi have been dropped.
The Starlets need to win by a two-goal margin to sail through to the third and final round of the qualifiers where they will meet the winner between Equatorial Guinea and Congo.
The Starlets kicked out Botswana at the first hurdle courtesy of an away goal rule after losing 2-1 away before winning the second leg 1-0 in Machakos.
Meanwhile, the South Africans, who are expected to jet in today, believe they will get a cold reception in the country.
According to South African newspaper, Daily Sun, Banyana Banyana defender Lebogang Ramalepe, says they will work hard to increase their 1-0 advantage when they tackle Kenya.
“The South Africans must prepare themselves for a possibly hostile reception after the Harambee Starlets’ arrival in Mzansi was delayed due to late visa allocation,” the paper reported.
“It’s going to be difficult. They (Kenya) will be more prepared than in the first leg but we have to attack from the first whistle and make sure we go into half-time having registered a goal already,” she said.
“They might score as well, seeing they will playing at home, but our goal is to come back with a win. We must be ready for a hostile welcome but we must not be pressured by that. We need to give our best on the field.”