Olympic Qualifier: Harambee Starlets beg support from government after beating Ghana

Janet Bundi of Kenya against Amfobea Gladys of Ghana.
Goal Kenya.
The women’s national team sends a message to the government to support them after they beat the Black Queens to qualify for the next stage

Harambee Starlets captain Dorcas Shikobe has pleaded with the Kenyan government to throw support behind the team after they knocked Ghana out of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games qualifiers on Tuesday.

The Kenyans progressed to the fourth round of the qualifiers after seeing off the Black Queens on a 1-0 aggregate win. Kenya had managed a 0-0 draw in the first leg played in Accra but returned home to triumph 1-0.

Neither of the two sides could get a goal in the entire 90 minutes, but the Black Queens conceded a penalty in extra time after Justice Tweneboah was adjudged to have handled in the box, which was converted by Gentrix Shikangwa.

Starlets captain Shikobe now believes the Ministry of Sports will take note after their latest triumph and support them to play in the January Olympics.

“We have fought for this team since 2015 but the government still owes us money since then,” Shikobe told Goal after the match.

“We ask them to help us and give us the same support which they accord the men’s team. This will boost our morale and make our up-coming fixtures easy.”

Two years ago and with limited government support, Starlets made history by qualifying for the Africa Women Cup of Nations (Awcon) which was held in Cameroon.

Being their first time, the team did not perform well but learnt some vital lessons which saw them nearly qualify for last year’s edition in Ghana, but were knocked out on a technicality.

This time around and again with no government support the team is two rounds away from making history by qualifying for next year’s Olympic Games.

While the men’s team received a whooping Sh244million for preparations and bonuses after qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Egypt, the Starlets can only dream of such figures.

In two rounds of the Olympic qualifiers, they have not received even a single cent from the Ministry of Sports, which has in place a sports fund for such purposes and ironically, its head is a woman.

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa praised the team for having reached the fourth round without any government support.

“The team has not received any support from the government for the last one year yet they have done very well and we hope they continue with that kind of performance,” Mwendwa told Goal.

“Until today [Wednesday] they have not received their allowances despite making our request and we are working round the clock to ensure we pay them. I hope the government will see how good they are performing and support them.”

Prior to Tuesday’s match, Principal Secretary in the Sports Ministry Peter Kaberia said they had received a request from the team but did not commit himself on whether they will be supported.

On winning against Ghana, Shikobe said they were intensely motivated and took advantage of their opponents’ mistakes to pick victory.

“We pushed ourselves and we had also learnt from their mistakes and weaknesses in the first leg. When we came for the return match, it was easy to do it," Shikobe added.

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She also believes they are ready for their next round opponents Zambia, who beat Botswana 2-0 to win their tie 3-0 on aggregate.

“I have played against both [Zambia] and [Botswana] and won against them. So we are ready for Zambia.”

One team from Africa will automatically qualify for the Olympics while another will face Chile in the play-off.