Harambee Starlets selection above board, asserts Mwendwa

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) President Nick Mwendwa has poured cold water on claims that the major changes executed in the current Harambee Starlets squad are a punishment to the ‘trade unionists’ regular members. Speaking during a press briefing at the Nairobi federation headquarters on Monday, Mwendwa said the changes are purely grounded on the team development plan of the technical bench. Head coach David Ouma dropped regular faces in the team while naming the team currently training for the forthcoming Olympics qualifier match against Malawi on August 28, away to Lilongwe, including Israel based striker Esse Mbeyu Akida. Others axed include long serving member Mary Kinuthia, Cheris Avilia and Neddy Atieno among others. But, according to Mwendwa, the development of the women league in Kenya has in the recent past has seen tremendous talent churned out for the national team, hence the competition. “We agree there are allowances that are not paid yet for past competitions, but that has nothing to do with the team in camp. I have been engaging the Ministry of Sports on this matter and I soon expect once the PS (Amb. Peter Kaberia) is back from Brazil, this matter will be sorted. “The mistake most people make is to imagine if funds are given for men’s team (Harambee Stars), the same can be shared by the Women team. All the funds that were given for Harambee Stars African Cup of Nations were fully utilised for that purpose only,” explained Mwendwa. Hecontinued: “I would not like to delve much into this, as we don’t want to send a bad message to the upcoming players. However, most of the players who are not in camp have been with us since 2016 and we have tried to do the best for them all through. In fact, at a point we were being said to leaning much to the women football more…” reminded the federation boss. Mwendwa indicated the youthful team in camp is majorly being groomed for the 2021 African Women Cup of Nations (AWCON), rather than the competitive Olympics. Harambee Starlets forward Esse Mbeyu Akida throws ball in against Algeria during the final round of the 2016 Africa Women Cup of Nations qualifier at Safaricom Stadium Kasarani in Nairobi, Kenya in April. She provided the assist for Vivian Corazone to score the winner in a friendly against Egypt on Friday, October 28, 2016 at the same stadium . Photo/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com “Last week Confederations of African Football ( CAF) expanded AWCON to 12 teams, meaning our chances of qualifying are higher. We want to build this team through the Olympics qualifiers, eyeing AWCON although we do not rule out a chance of qualifying for the Japan 2020 competition. Africa has only three slots, so realistically it will be a very tough qualifying journey,” elaborated Mwendwa. The team largely features players selected from the ongoing Women Premier League, as well as the Chapa Dimba na Safaricom Youth Tournament, which ended last month. “This is a youthful squad which has given us an opportunity to assess players from the WPL, the Chapa Dimba tournament as well as the school games. “The door is always open for any player who proves she is up to the task, and I’m confident that this crop of young players will sire us positive results,” said coach David Ouma, upon releasing the initial provisional squad. Foreign coach Meanwhile, Mwendwa has revealed the federation will soon hire a foreign coach to help improve the women football standards in the country, through the national teams. “In the coming months we want to hire a foreign coach so that we put the standards at a level ground with the men’s team. This will also build capacity for the coaches we have now as they work alongside the one we bring on board,” told Mwendwa. Harambee Starlets has never been coached by a foreign coach since inception. Provisional Squad Goalkeepers: Wilfrida Seda (Vihiga Queens), Judith Osimbo (Gaspo Youth), Elizabeth Atieno (Wadadia), Annette Kundu (Eldoret Falcons), Lilian Awuor (Vihiga Queens) Defenders: Lilian Adera (Vihiga Queens), Maureen Khakasa (Trans Nzoia Falcons), Vivian Nasaka (Vihiga Queens), Enez Mango (Vihiga Queens), Dorcas Sikobe (Oserian), Lucy Akoth (Mathare United Women), Lydia Akoth (Thika Queens), Stella Anyango (Gaspo) Midfielders: Myline Awuor (Vihiga Queens), Sheril Angachi (Gaspo), Cynthia Shilwatso (Vihiga Queens), Vivian Corazone (Gaspo), Yvonne Kavere (Soccer Queens), Cynthia Matekwa (Nyuki Starlets), Janet Bundi (Eldoret Falcons), Rebecca Akinyi (Oserian Ladies), Maurine Achieng (Vihiga Queens), Martha Amunyolete (Trans Nzoia Falcons), Bertha Omita (Kisumu All Starlets), Mwanahalima Adam (Thika Queens), Rachael Muema (Thika Queens), Elizabeth Wambui (Gaspo Women) Forwards: Topista Nafula (Vihiga Queens), Tumaini Waliaula (Trans Nzoia Falcons), Mercy Airo (Kisumu All Starlets), Phoebe Owiti (Vihiga Queens), Terry Engesha (Vihiga Queens), Cynthia Achieng (Kisumu All Starlets), Winnie Kanyotu (Gaspo Youth), Elizabeth Katungwa (Kwale Girls), Ruth Ingosi (Eldoret Falcons), Sharon Kasambi (Kayole Starlet)

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