When Mary Kinuthia leads the sizzling Harambee Starlets out of the tunnel on Sunday against formidable Ethiopia in the first Cecafa Women Championship semi-final in Jinja, all focus will be on whether the highly rated Kenyans will qualify for the final.
Kenya has been in blistering form at the tournament, scoring 19 goals in three matches and conceding none.
That is the kind of performance captain Kinuthia will expect from her side against Ethiopia from 1.30pm on Sunday.
“We have to come into this one with the same mind set, everyone doing their job, keep it tight at the back but also utilize our chances in front of their goal,” Kinuthia, who has scored three goals told Sunday Nation Sport.
Ethiopia will also have to worry about the tournament’s leading scorer Esse Akida. Her five goals in three group matches have made her the most lethal striker in Njeru. Not to mention her combination with Kinuthia and Neddy Atieno.
“I’m not really minding about the top scorers’ boot, I am more focused on seeing the team win. That will be the target,” Akida said.
She added: “We have a good understanding as a team, and that will be key against Ethiopia.”
Ethiopia, one of the few sides that have tasted victory over the Harambee Starlets, will come into the fixture with the final on their sight too, according to skipper Birtukan Gebrekirstos.
“There is no doubt, we want to be in the final. Kenya is a tough team, they have proved it here, but I believe we are good enough to compete,” Gebrekirstos said through an interpreter.
Although many had predicted a Kenya versus Ethiopia final, the two sides’ “early” meeting was decided by the toss of a coin.
In the last Group B preliminary match, Ethiopia and Tanzania settled for a barren draw. Both teams had earlier beaten Rwanda 3-2.
So they tied on goals scored, goals conceded and headed-to-head forcing the toss of a coin to determine the group winner.
Uganda play Tanzania in the second semi-final from 4pm.
The hosts could not hide their delight at facing Tanzania for a ticket to the final.
“Much as you have to be ready for any team, if you asked me which team I would have fancied to play against in the semis between Ethiopia and Tanzania, I would have chosen the latter,” said Crested Cranes’ Hasifa Nasunna.
Hosts Uganda will unleash deadly Hasifa Nasunna and 17-year-old Fazirah Ikwaput in a striking line that has yielded seven goals already and looks to be blossoming.