Kenya: Harambee Starlets Coach Happy With Team Progress

Harambee Starlets coach David Ouma is impressed with the progress the team has made in the past few years.

The team qualified for the Africa Women Cup of Nations in 2016 and Ouma ranks this as his biggest achievement.

"We played 22 high profile international matches in 2016, and the highlight was the Africa Women Cup of Nations. We also reached the final of the 2016 CECAFA Women Championships," he said.

"In 2017, we continued to build this team, and it was encouraging when we posted stellar performances in the 2020 Olympics Qualifiers where we eliminated Ghana, which is a World Cup nation. Eventually, we won the 2019 CECAFA Women Championships in Tanzania for the first time ever."

The team's good performance saw some players get professional deals abroad.

Covid-19 pandemic the only stumbling block

Goalkeeper Annette Kundu and defender Ruth Ingosi, both of whom were attached to Women Premier League side Eldoret Falcons, were snapped up by Cypriot side Lakatamia FC, while Corazone Aquino was snapped up by Portuguese side Atletico Ouriense.

Cynthia Shilwatso and Mwanahalima Adam are also reportedly on the radar of top Spanish and Swedish sides, with the global Covid-19 pandemic the only stumbling block.

"It gives me joy when I see these players further their careers abroad. Every coach wants to see their products excel and I am not any different," he said.

Coach Ouma says he is always on the lookout for new players who can make the team better.

"The door into and out of the national team is always open. Keep working hard wherever you are. For those who have gotten a chance, you need to act as role models and remained focused," he noted.

Football may have been suspended owing to the global Covid-19 pandemic but work has not stopped for the tactician.

Starlets were scheduled to face Tanzania in the first round of the 2020 Africa Women Cup of Nations Qualifiers in April.

The Confederation of African Football's (CAF) Executive Committee, however, resolved to cancel the tournament, in a meeting held on Tuesday, 30 June 2020, via video conference, to discuss the future of competitions and other related issues.

Ouma has been following up on Harambee Starlets players, who have been training individually in isolation.

"As a coach, I have been keeping track of the players to see to it that they remain fit," said coach Ouma.

"I have been in close contact with their coaches to ensure that their training programs are sufficient. I have also been following up on the newly called-up players, whom we went with to Turkey before the pandemic struck, to ensure that they remain fit for the resumption of football activities."

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