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Storm as deadly forward Essie Akida dropped from Harambee Starlets squad

Kilifi County Department of Youth Affairs and Sports has protested the move by Harambee Starlets coach Beldine Odemba to drop striker Esse Akida from the national team squad.

The team is preparing to face Botswana in a Women’s Africa Cup of Nations qualification match (WAFCON ).

Odemba on November 19, 2023, announced a 29-woman provisional squad with a balance of foreign and local-players.

Through its social media platforms, the County Government of Kilifi felt that Akida could have brought experience to the national team.

“In as much as we respect the decision made by Harambee Starlets to axe our very own, Mbeyu Essie Akida, from the national squad, we are not pleased with this decision. Mbeyu has been one of the standout players at her Greece-based club, PAOK Thessaloniki, and dropping her in a very crucial match with all her knowledge and experience of the game, raises more questions than answers,” the statement read.

“To our daughter Mbeyu, keep your head held high and let your achievements speak for themselves, because here in Kilifi, we are very proud of you and more so, for staying committed to your dreams even when things get tough. Hugs from the people of Kilifi.”

Akida made a return to the team after six years and played against the Indomitable Lionesses of Cameroon in the first round of this tournament.

Starlets emerged victorious with a 4-3 win on post-match penalties after the match had ended on 1-1 aggregate at Nyayo National Stadium on September 26, 2023.

Kenya’s lone goal was scored by substitute Cynthia Shilwatso in the 89th minute after she came in to replace Akida in the 60th minute.

In her most recent match, Akida scored a brace in an 8-0 against Seirines Grevenon in a league match.

The former Thika Queens (Kenya Police Bullets) and National Youth Talent Academy (NYTA) player who made her debut for Starlets in 2012, was part of the Kenya team that made their first appearance ever in Wafcon in 2016 in Cameroon.

In a related development, only 13 players had arrived in camp and trained at Kasarani Annex Grounds in Nairobi ahead of this fixture on November 21, 2023. The team will start its campaign in Nairobi on November 29, 2023, with the return leg stated for on November 29, 2023, in Botswana.

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