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Tanzania stand between Starlets and regional glory

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By LOKEDER NATIOM
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This is the final that all were waiting for, the two best girls team in the region clashing for the 2019 Cecafa Women’s Challenge Cup crown at Chamazi Stadium, Dar es Salaam from 4.30pm on Monday.

Hosts Tanzania are the defending champions and, in fact, the only nation to have held the title from their triumph in the inaugural edition in 2016 in Uganda.

Kenyan girls have been blooded at the women’s Africa Cup of Nations and recently had a fine run in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games qualifiers painfully falling at the penultimate stage.

But it is the statistics for this Cecafa championship that makes a convincing case of a potentially explosive clash.

Starlets rode through their matches like a juggernaut, crushing all before them to score a tournament high 22 goals for none conceded.

At the other end of the draw, Tanzania similarly steamrollered their opponents to record 21 goals scored for none let in.

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Who will blink first? Kenya will be floating in confidence. A day earlier Harambee Starlets were nominated for the Best National Women Football Team in Africa award by the Confederation of African football.

Starlets were nominated for Caf award alongside Africa’s football bigwigs Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Zambia, South Africa and Nigeria following the team’s outstanding display at the 2020 Olympic qualifier recording excellent wins over Malawi and continental heavyweights Ghana.

“We are humbled by the nomination. It goes to show the good work being done behind the scenes to develop women’s football,” said Football Kenya Federation president Nick Mwendwa.

Kenyan lasses will be seeking to redeem their 2-1 loss in last year’s final to Tanzania. Starlets hammered Burundi 5-0 on Saturday in their semi-final clash while Tanzania edged out familiar foes Uganda 1-0.

Starlets top scorer midfielder Jentrix Shikangwa with 10 goals, Mwanahalima Adam, defender Vivian Odhiambo and forward Mercy Airo, who is making a comeback after one match suspension, will be the players to look out for.

Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro Queens too have firepower to beat Kenya again at this stage.

The Tanzanians quartet of Asha Rashid, who scored their lone goal against Uganda in the semi-finals, Mwanahamisi Omary, Stumai Abdalla and Donisia Minja have all together scored 15 goals combined.

Starlets coach David Ouma will have to device a strategy to shut down these girls who will no doubt be backed by a partisan crowd at Chimazi.

Ouma side he was relishing the Tanzanian test. Ouma however said he was worried about the ever reliable Adam who was racing against time to recover from a leg injury.





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