Four years ago the Kenya women’s national team, given little chance by pundits, surprised many by advancing to the penultimate stage of the U-20 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, before the unexpected Francis Kimanzi happened.
To recap, the team then led by former Starlets international Florence Adhiambo, did what no other Kenyan women’s football team had ever done, they were so close to a to World Cup appearance than the trademark solidarity walk to the City Stadium where they used to train from.
The outsiders, (Starlets) received a bye when their first round opponents Mozambique withdrew. They beat Lesotho 4-2 on aggregate to book a second round date with Zambia. In that game despite losing 1-2 in Lusaka, the ladies beat the seeded Zambia side 5-2 on aggregate to sail to the penultimate round.
For those who don’t remember, Kimanzi happened, while Adhiambo was relegated to some supporting role in the team.
The current Mathare United coach, then Stars’ coach, assumed the ladies side needed his experience in their homestretch to a historical World Cup appearance that was never to be.
Well to cut the chase, those of us, at the Nyayo National Stadium on that fateful Saturday afternoon remember Kimanzi making phone calls from the VIP section to the technical bench and needles to mention we ended up losing 1-2 to Tunisia, ultimately heartbreaking the millions of fans who for once saw some hope in Kenyan football.
Tactical naivety was blamed after that loss.
After many years of waiting and coming from the month of March where Stanley Okumbi’s men’s side helped poorly ranked Guinea Bissau scale the football ranks, another miracle is in the offing as the women’s team are on the verge of qualifying for the 2016 Africa Cup of Nations.
Defying all odds, the ladies team were on the verge of beating Algeria last week but the North African nation scored late in a 2-2 draw.
The ladies have a chance to put the tie to bed at the Kasarani stadium in the return leg fixture on Tuesday, April 12.
Having endured torture in the hands of Harambee Stars, we could be celebrating a rare victory come Tuesday evening. You know they don’t come often in our receivership country.
Nothing against Okumbi, or any other member of the, so far, mediocre Harambee Stars technical bench, or anyone else who should feel philanthropic and possessed with the non-working technical spirits, kindly keep off the ladies team.
Crucially though, let us get to Kasarani in number and support the ladies.
Good luck, our women’s team. You can defy the odds! – By Abuga
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