Harambee Starlets get vaccinated ahead of 2022 AWCON qualifiers

Kenya players receive COVID-19 vaccine.
The Harambee Starlets were administered the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, April 9, 2021. (Photo by Football Kenya Federation)

The Kenya women’s national football team are currently preparing for their upcoming 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (AWCON) qualifiers. Part of this preparation includes getting inoculated against COVID-19.

Kenya’s Harambee Starlets received the vaccination ahead of their forthcoming friendly match against hosts Zambia. The meeting against the Copper Queens will take place on Saturday, April 24.

The vaccination process launched on Thursday, April 8 and will end on Tuesday, April 13. Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed seeks to vaccinate a total of 3,500 athletes by the end of the exercise.

As the exercise carried through the weekend, Football Kenya Federation affiliates received the vaccination. This included Kenyan Premier League club staff members, players and officials.

The road to AWCON and beyond

The Starlets will report to camp on April 15, offering just over a week of preparation before facing Zambia.

For Kenya, the game will determine the squad’s status ahead of the 2022 Africa Women Cup of Nations qualifiers. Meanwhile, Zambia will utilize the match to prepare for their run at the Tokyo Olympics later this summer.

A lot rides on Kenya’s qualification for the AWCON finals. Set to take place in Morocco next year, the biennial tournament paves the best route to the World Cup.

Finalists and semi finalists in the AWCON tournament obtain direct slots allocated for Africa at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Australia and New Zealand will host the ninth edition of the competition.

Coaching change

Despite already selecting the team’s provisional squad, head coach David Ouma mutually parted ways with the Harambee Starlets on Monday, April 12.

Prior to leaving his post as head coach, Ouma took part in the vaccination program with the Starlets.

“I would like to thank the Federation and the Ministry of Health for giving the players and the technical bench the vaccine,” said Ouma. “This will go a long way in ensuring the safe return of the national team to active competition ahead of the busy calendar in our bid towards AWCON qualification, which will play a major role in our quest towards our first World Cup qualification.”

Charles Okere will immediately step into the national team’s head coaching role. Okere previously held the position of assistant coach at Kenyan Premier League side Tusker FC.

Harambee Starlets provisional squad

GOALKEEPERS:
Annette Kundu (AEL Champions), Valentine Khwaka (Mathare
Mathare United Women Team), Pauline Kathuruh (Kibera Soccer Ladies), Judith Osimbo

DEFENDERS:
Ruth Ingosi (AEL Champions), Quinter Owiti, Dorcas Shikobe (Thika Queens),Foscah Nashivanga, Nelly Sawe (Thika Queens), Leah Vivian Nasaka Makokha (Vihiga Queens), Juliet Andipo (Kayole Starlets)

MIDFIELDERS:
Lilian Mbagala (Kibera Soccer Ladies), Vivian Corazone Aquino (Gaspo Women), Sheryl Angachi (Gaspo Women), Lydia Akoth (Thika Queens), Laventine Lihemo (Kibera Soccer Ladies), Topister Situma (Vihig Queens), Puren Alukwe (Zetech Sparks), Diana Wacera (Gaspo Women), Kamanda Rael (Makolanders), Janet Bundi (Vihiga Queens), Siliya Rasoha (Ulinzi Starlets), Rachael Muema (Thika Queens), Martha Amunyolete (TransNzoia Falcons)

STRIKERS:
Mwanahalima Adam (Thika Queens), Mercy Airo (Gaspo Women), Gilly Okumu (Mathare United Women)

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