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November 18, 2018

Girls get bye: Harambee Starlets advance to second round of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers as DR Congo withdraw

UPBEAT: Harambee Starlets team striker Neddy Atieno
UPBEAT: Harambee Starlets team striker Neddy Atieno

NATIONAL women’s football team Harambee Starlets received a bye to the second round of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers after their opponents in the first round tie Democratic Republic of Congo pulled out.

The team coached by David Ouma, will now play whoever wins between Ethiopia and Algeria in the second round next month.

According to Football Kenya Federation (FKF) vice chairperson Doris Petra, DR Congo pulled out of the match earlier set for this weekend at the Safaricom Stadium, Kasarani, citing financial constraints.

“We received a communication from the match commissioner that they (DR Congo) will not turn up for the clash due to financial constraints and by virtue of them not honouring the fixture, we automatically proceed to the next round,” said the official.

She added, “The players will have two friendly matches on Tuesday (yesterday) and Wednesday (today) to gauge their fitness and performance before they break camp on Thursday (tomorrow). We will ensure the players are not idle for the time they will not be in camp. We have discussed with the coaches of various clubs they are attached to and we will come up with a programme,” she said.

Regular national team striker Neddy Atieno welcomed the development but was quick to note that they will not rest on their laurels.

“We were ready to play them (DR Congo). But their withdrawal gives us the chance to proceed to the next stage, where we will face either Algeria or Ethiopia and with the good preparation, we can only hope for the best,” said the Tartar Secondary School alumni

Others, who have received byes in the first round of the qualifiers include champions Super falcons of Nigeria, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast and South Africa.

In the other fixtures lined up this weekend across the continent, neighbours Tanzania take on Zimbabwe, Botswana play Mauritius, Mali battleMorocco, Zambia face Namibia, Libya play Egypt, Senegal lock horns with Guinea and Burkina Faso host Tunisia.

Elsewhere, FKF Nairobi branch clubs meet today to chart the way forward for the 2016 league season that kick off next weekend.

Branch chairman Michael Ouma said today’s meeting that has attracted more than 100 clubs which are set to feature in the regional, county and women’s

league. He said today’s talks will centre around participation fees. “We want the league to be affordable to all clubs that want to take part in our competition and that is why we will meet today with them and hear their opinions on this issue before our season kicks off,” said Ouma.

Last week, it was reported that a sponsorship of close to Sh20 million had been secured to help Nairobi branch and their Nairobi West counterparts to run their activities this year.

“Of course if we get any sponsorship, the clubs will be the first to benefit as the fees they pay to the federation will be greatly reduce,” Ouma stated.

Also set to be adressed is a proposal by the FKF to limit the payment of the affiliation fees from its annual commitment to a four year schedule.

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