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Ten things to know about Harambee Starlets

Having secured historic qualification to the women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon in November, Harambee Starlets are understandably receiving all the plaudits from local fans and patriotic Kenyans.

Here are 10 things that you should know about Kenya’s national women’s football team:

1. Harambee Starlets – is the official name of Kenya’s national women football team.

2. The Starlets playing unit mainly consists of players who have finished their “O” levels.

3. Playing unit – nine of the players who featured for the Starlets in that historic win against Algeria play for Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) team.

4. Ninety percent of this team, including the technical bench, was assembled by the former Football Kenya Federation office led by then President Sam Nyamweya.

5. Olympics qualifiers – This same team almost qualified for the Rio Games but came short after losing narrowly to South Africa in the final stage.

6. The team has endured innumerable challenges along the way, notably, financial constraints that hindered their preparations last year as the girls were forced to board inside Safaricom Stadium’s dressing rooms for lack of accommodation.

It took the intervention of then Cabinet Secretary for Devolution, Anne Waiguru, to salvage the situation and have the team travel to South Africa.

7. Africa Cup of Nations – the team qualified for the continental championships without winning a single match in the qualifiers. They got a bye to the second and final round of the qualifiers after their opponents in the first round, the Democratic Republic of Congo, withdrew for lack of funds. They then drew 2-2 and 1-1 with Algeria at home and away, to advance on the away goals rule.

8. By qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations, the Starlets have managed what their male counterparts – Harambee Stars – have failed to achieve in the last 12 years.

9. Kiko Romeo – the local fashion and design company has already tabled an offer to “dress up the girls” off the pitch, following Wednesday’s win over Algeria.

10. As expected, a visit to State House to meet up with President Uhuru Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta is on the cards following the Starlets heroic achievement.