Odemba rallies charges to make best of home advantage in WAFCON hunt

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 30 – Harambee Starlets head coach Beldine Odemba has said the team is under no pressure as they take on Botswana on Wednesday afternoon in the first leg of the final round of qualification for the 2024 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON).

The tactician has rallied her charges, saying they are ready to battle Botswana and take a good result at home to lighten the burden when they travel to Gaborone next weekend.

“We have trained well and everyone is focused and ready for the match. There’s no team that’s unbeatable. We know they (Botswana) have made better strides than us but we have also made our own strides,” the tactician said.

She added; “We have prepared well for them and everyone is focused. We are ready.”

She says starting at home will not be a disadvantage for them, but it will be key to ensure they keep a clean sheet and get a win of a good margin to put them in a better position to qualify as they finish away from home.

Skipper Ingotsi says team is ready 

Harambee Starlets players during a training session at the Nyayo National Stadium. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Her sentiments are echoed by skipper Ruth Ingotsi who says the team has trained well and are looking forward to winning at home.

“The mood is great in camp and the players are ready. The coaches have done their work and now it is our turn to do our job. There is zero pressure on us. We just want to go out there and play a good game, score early goals and battle for a win,” said the defender.

She added; “We know Botswana are good. We don’t fear them but we respect them. We have watched some of their videos just to see how they are and I am sure they have also watched ours. It will be a battle on the pitch and 90 minutes will decide.”

Meanwhile the team will be without striker Gentrix Shikangwa who pulled out late due to an injury. But, coach Odemba has been boosted with the availability of Czech Republic based forward Marjolene Nekesa, who missed the second round victory over Cameroon with injury.

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Add strength to attack 

Harambee Starlets players during a training session at the Nyayo National Stadium. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Odemba is elated with the availability of the 24-year old forward, and hopes she can translate her club form to country.

“I am happy she is here. She had really wanted to play against Cameroon and I think we won for her because we really wanted her to be part of the team. She is a good inclusion. She scored twice against Botswana in 2018 when we played them in the U20 and she will see some familiar faces. I am optimistic she will add a lot of quality to our side,” the tactician said.

Starlets will look to clinch a first leg victory at home with a clean sheet, to give themselves a headstart for next week’s return fixture in Gaborone.

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