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Kenya pooled with west African giants in Women’s Africa Cup of Nations

Council of East and Central Africa (CECAFA) Women’s Championships’ title contenders Harambee Starlets will have little time to rest after the tournament concludes today as they have the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) finals to plan for.

Starlets have landed a tough Group B where they are pitted against west African countries, defending champions Nigeria, Ghana and Mali in what has been dubbed as the “group of death”.

Nigeria have won all but two titles since the tournament’s inception with Equatorial Guinea having claimed it twice in 2008 and 2012. However, Equatorial Guinea were disqualified from this year’s edition for fielding an illegible player with Mali taking their place to make it six appearances at the tournament where Kenya will be featuring for the first time.

Kenya’s other opponent Ghana have been at the tournament 10 times, finishing as runners-up three times making it a tough task for the Starlet—who qualified in April after beating favourites Algeria—at the group stages.

Kenya therefore go into the tournament as underdogs with their inexperience not making matters better. However, they can be buoyed by their victory over the much fancied Algerians—whom they beat on away goals—plus some good results they posted in a recent tour of Spain.

If they can beat Tanzania and claim the Cecafa crown today, then that will do their confidence a whole lot of good. In Group B, Nigeria are ranked tops at position 37 in the Fifa rankings followed by Ghana at 46 and Mali at 92 with Kenya at a lowly 132.

The top two teams from each group at the preliminary round will qualify for the knockout phase and that is the stage Kenya will be hoping to get past. Group A has hosts Cameroon, Egypt, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The onus is now on Football Kenya Federation (FKF) to ensure the team has adequate preparations before they head to Cameroon for the tournament slated for November 19-December 3.

Their performance in the Cecafa tournament has shown that they are the best team in the region and coach David Ouma has a lot to build on before November. Meanwhile, betting firm SportPesa has sponsored fans to attend the Cecafa final between Starlets and Tanzania in Jinja, Uganda today.

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