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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Kenya upbeat for Africa Nations Cup women’s football finals  

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya women’s football team head coach David Ouma has warned rivals at the Africa Nations Cup finals of never underrating Kenya’s ability.

The Africa Women’s Nations Cup finals start in Ghana from Nov. 17 to Dec. 1, which also serve as the African qualifiers to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The top three teams will qualify for the World Cup to be held in France in June next year.

Kenya face a difficult task to navigate past defending champions Nigeria and last tournament’s runners-up South Africa in Pool B of the tournament, which also has Zambia.

“Let us not only look at Nigeria. This is football and anyone can be beaten. We have been given the lifeline to redeem ourselves in the competition and I will not allow anyone to look down upon us,” Ouma said here Monday.

Kenya returned to the Africa Women’s Nations Cup finals, after their debut in 2016, courtesy of an appeal they launched against Equatorial Guinea, who had field a player from Cameroon in their 3-2 win over Kenya in the qualifiers.

Confederations of Africa Football (CAF) has since suspended Equatorial Guinea from the eight team competition and reinstated Kenya.

“We have our chance and this tournament is bigger than Nigeria team alone. There are other six top African countries in Ghana, so basically every team is a worthy opponent. But I believe that with extensive preparation and a proper mindset, we can pick at least a point from each team,” said Ouma.

Hosts Ghana were handed a tricky group as they were drawn against giants Cameroon and Mali in Group A.

Ghana’s Black Queens, who will based in the capital Accra, will also take on Algeria following the draw for African women’s flagship competition on Sunday night.

Title holders Nigeria got what looks like a favorable group as they will play South Africa, Zambia and Kenya in Group B in the coastal city of Cape Coast.

Ouma warned that more local players have moved abroad and gained experience and will be expecting a better performance at the highest stage.

“Two years ago, Kenya lacked exposure and experience in women football. That has since changed and today we have five players plying their trade in European leagues.

They will certainly impact positively to our game and bring in leadership into the squad. I expect to start training on Monday (Oct. 29),” he added.

The Black Queens will play the opening match on Nov. 17 against Algeria. Ghana will play Mali three days later before wrapping up their group campaign against giants Cameroon.

Nigeria’s Super Falcons will open their campaign on Nov. 18 in Cape Coast before tackling Zambia at the same venue three days later. Nigeria, eight-time winners, will complete their group phase matches with their clash with Kenya on Nov. 24.

The top two sides in the groups will progress to the semifinals.

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EARLIER REPORT:

Kenya women’s football team seeks funds ahead of Africa Cup tourney

By John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya risks missing out from the Africa Women’s Nations Cup finals in Ghana next month as it struggles to raise 430,000 U.S. dollars to fund the trip.

The team, which secured qualification to the premier continental women’s football competition, courtesy of an appeal that locked out Equatorial Guinea, had no budget for the tourney and only got the nod to participate four days ago.

Nick Mwendwa, president of Football Kenya Federation, wants the country’s parliament to fast track operationalize of the Sports Fund, set up in 2016, so that the team can be bankrolled from its proceeds.

The fund draws its inflow from Sports Bookies and Lotteries but has since its inception not been actualized.

“I am appealing to parliament to clear the stumbling blocks that are standing in the way of the operationalization of the Sports Fund. This way, we can be able to raise enough funding to see our national teams through our international assignments,” Mwendwa said in Nairobi on Tuesday.

The eight-team Africa Women’s Nations Cup tournament is set to kick off in Ghana on Nov. 17. It will be Kenya’s second appearance at the competition following its debut at the 2016 tournament in Cameroon.

“We took part in the 2016 edition for the first time ever. Now, the players are more experienced. I hope the government will give the women’s team full support as it has done with the senior men’s team Harambee Stars. I’m confident that they will give a good account of themselves in Ghana,” said Mwendwa.

The team will move to training camp on Monday and will play two friendly matches against Uganda before jetting out to Ghana on Nov. 14.

Kenya will thus join hosts Ghana, defending champions Nigeria, Cameroon, South Africa, Mali, Algeria and Zambia for the tournament.

Kenya has been pooled against Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia in the group stage of the competition with the top two teams making it to the semifinals.

           

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