After all women football had long been neglected by previous football administrators.

National Under-20 football players in training. PHOTOS: STAFFORD ONDEGO/STANDARD

Yet when the qualifiers started and Kenya edged out Lesotho many took notice of the team. When Zambia fell in the second round, hopes were raised high that the team was on the verge of something great – qualification for the World Cup in Japan. The hopes will go a notch higher Saturday when Kenya takes on Tunisia in a third round match of the qualifier at Nyayo National Stadium. Kenya needs to edge out the North Africans and then will be left with either Ghana or South Africa to get out of the way en-route to Japan.
The Kenyan team must therefore get a positive result at home Saturday and this includes a huge win in Nairobi to make the return leg a mere formality.

Coach Florence Adhiambo has kept faith with a team that has so far done the country proud maintaining Pauline Atieno in goal, Jackline Ashitsa, Doris Anyango, Cynthia Khavaya and Maureen Achieng in defence.

Upfront Wendy Achieng and Nelly Auma will lead Kenya’s goal hunt. This is probably coach Adhiambo’s most important match of this campaign considering what is at stake and anything short of a win will spell doom for her side.

Adhiambo has predicted a high scoring win for his side, but remains cautious about her opponents.

“We are at home and we don’t expect this to change. Our major plea is for fans to come out in large numbers and support our efforts. We are carrying the country’s hopes with a focus on the big stage and need all the support we can get,” he said.

Tunisia are no pushovers going into this match as they edged out Morocco 5-0 before setting a date with Kenya and look set to get something in Nairobi.

Coach Amami Mohammed Ali has even vowed to upset the high riding Kenyans right in their backyard and boasts of being in a great “physical and mental frame of mind” for this match. To underscore their seriousness, Tunisia opted to arrive early for the match landing in Nairobi on Tuesday to acclimatise.

The coach has paid glowing tribute to Kenya predicting a tough first leg match. Kenya have shown that they are no pushovers by coming this far. We do not underrate them and expect a good challenge which we are determined to win,” he said. Football fans will pay Sh300 for the VIP and Sh100 for the terraces to watch this match.

By GILBERT WANDERA and REBECCA GICHANA, The Standard

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