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Junior Starlets eye perfect start to World Cup journey

Harambee Starlets Under 20 team will kick off their race to qualify for the 2018 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in a preliminary round qualifier against Botswana at Lobatse Sports Complex tomorrow, with the return match scheduled for August 4.

This will be the ninth edition of the international women’s youth football championship contested by the under-20 national teams of the member associations of FIFA, which will take place from August 7-26, 2018 in France.

A squad of 20 women drawn mainly from the just-concluded Secondary School Term 2B Games jetted out yesterday as Kenya seeks to be among the two Africa countries that will qualify from the 19 CAF member nations.

Kenya and Botswana are joined in the preliminary round by Burundi, Djibout, Libya and Sierra Leone, while the first round has 13 teams. The two winners of the third round, to be played in January 2018, will qualify for the World Cup and join 14 teams from five other confederations.

Asia has three slots, four for Europe, Oceania with two, one qualifier being the host nation France, two from South America and three from North, Central America and Caribbean (CONCACAF).

Goalkeeper Lilian Awuor from Nyakach Girls, who was part of the Harambee Starlets team that participated in the 2016 CECAFA Cup in Uganda, has made the cut and will compete with school-mate Judith Osimbo and Wiyeta’s Dinah Tembesi in goal. Martha Amunyolete, Jentrix Shikangwa and Rachael Mwema lead the striking force as Soccer Queens’ midfielder Corazone Aquino makes the squad as the most experienced and skipper.

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