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It’s World Cup or nothing, Ababu vows

Tuesday, May 21st, 2024 02:15 | By
Sports CS Ababu Namwamba
Sports CS Ababu Namwamba (R). PHOTO/Print

The government of Kenya through the Ministry of Sports has promised to throw everything in their possession to ensure the qualification of the national U17 Women’s team to the 2024 FIFA World Cup in the Dominican Republic.

Junior Starlets under the guidance of coach Mildred Cheche made a name for themselves on Sunday afternoon at the lively Ulinzi Sports Complex after thumping CECAFA neighbors Ethiopia 3-0 to close on a historic World Cup qualification.

With the team now just 180 minutes away from achieving the hsitorical feat, Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba says his ministry will inject more investment into the team to ensure success in the journey to the global football showpiece which would make them the first ever Kenyan football team to reach the World Cup.

“I have had a conversation with the technical bench to see what we can offer in terms of general support to the team. We want to do everything possible for this dream and to see the girls at the FIFA World Cup. We will not take any chances as far as preparation is concerned. Issues of motivation, training and even acclimatization, schooling are top on my list,” Ababu told People Sport.

The Junior Starlets will face Burundi in the fourth round of the qualification process next month with the first leg scheduled between 7-9 June.

Burundi who thrashed Djibouti by a ‘rugby’ score line hosted their home game at the Abebe Bikiia Stadium in Addis the venue where Kenya forced a barren draw against Ethiopia for the first leg outing one week ago.

CS Ababu further noted that should Burundi choose to host their home game again in Ethiopia or in Tanzania then he is willing to see the team travel early for acclimatization if need be.

“The girls seemingly struggled during the first leg game in Addis Ababa and maybe it was because of the different weather conditions. In that case there will be a need for acclimatization in our next game that we play away in search of an improved performance. I am greatly impressed by how they played at home at the Ulinzi Complex. It is clear that the team has massive talents, if you see the kind of magical goals that were scored by our girls (Kenya) then you realize how formidable the team is. The goals were not guess work or fluke; they were well calculated by the players.This i a good team considering that they have only played two international matches at their level.I would like Kenyans to come out in large numbers to support the team in our next home match against Burundi,”

This is arguably the closest Kenya has ever come to a world cup qualification at any age group or gender.

There has been a concern from several football enthusiasts about effects of the school calendar on the preparations of the team ahead of the crucial tie against Burundi next month considering that nine players in the current squad are form-four students.

The players who are poised to be writing their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exams includes speedy forward Marion Serenge, goalkeeper Velma Auma, Claire Meris, Judith Nandwa, Quinter Adhiambo, Rebecca Odato, Lorine Ilavonga, Christine Adhiambo and Velma Awour.

On the matter, Ababu says that he is in consultations with the Ministry of Education for temporary classes for the players at the Kenya Academy of Sports so as to allow the team to continue with their residential camp in readiness to face Burundi with the fixture just 19 days away.

Other teams that have qualified for the final round of the qualification process are Morocco, Zambia, Nigeria and Liberia.

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