Harambee Junior Starlets Make History with FIFA World Cup Qualification

By Elkanah Nyauma


Harambee Junior Starlets Make History with FIFA World Cup Qualification

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 16 – The Harambee Junior Starlets have become the first Kenyan team to qualify for a FIFA World Cup. They achieved this historic feat by defeating Burundi 2-0 on the day and 5-0 on aggregate, securing a spot in the U-17 World Cup set to take place in the Dominican Republic in October.

First-half goals from Marion Serenge and Valerie Nekesa led the Kenyan girls to a decisive victory on Sunday afternoon at the Ulinzi Sports Complex, ensuring they advanced to the World Cup without conceding a single goal.

In front of a fully packed Ulinzi Complex in Lang’ata, the Junior Starlets etched their names in Kenyan football history.

By halftime, the job was all but done for the Junior Starlets. They led 2-0 on the afternoon and 5-0 on aggregate, leaving little chance for a Burundian comeback against the determined Kenyan girls.

Harambee Junior Starlets
Junior Starlets striker Marion Serenge celebrates her goal against Burundi. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

From the first minute, the Starlets demonstrated their dominance. Lornah Faith controlled the ball at the edge of the box, took a step, and unleashed a left-footed shot that narrowly missed the target.

In the 16th minute, Susan Akoth nearly scored after a brilliant defense-splitting pass, but her shot went straight to the keeper’s hands.

A minute later, goalkeeper Clairia Nshimirimana collided with two defenders, leaving the ball loose for Serenge, who calmly slotted it into the empty net.

Six minutes later, Nekesa scored her first goal of the qualifiers, stealing the ball from a Burundian defender, driving into the box, and shooting low past the keeper.

Harambee Junior Starlets
Junior Starlets forward Marion Serenge leaves her markers for dead before scoring. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Dominant First Half

With a 2-0 lead after 23 minutes, a supportive home crowd, and impressive play, the Starlets were in dreamland. They exhibited confidence and flair, delighting the capacity crowd at Ulinzi Sports Complex.

Burundi struggled to pose any threat, and their closest attempt, when Rahay Roy Nzoyikorera broke through on goal, was thwarted by a precise tackle from Kimberly Akinyi.

Harambee Junior Starlets
Harambee Junior Starlets head coach Mildred Cheche shouts instructions from the touchline. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Second Half Resilience

In the second half, the Burundians returned with renewed vigor, aiming to restore some pride. Despite increased pressure, the solid Kenyan defense, led by skipper Elizabeth Ochaka, ensured they kept a clean sheet.

Burundi had a chance when midfielder Esperance Habonimana struck from distance, but her shot flew over the bar.

The Starlets could have added a third goal when substitute Mitchelle Waithera was set up by the brilliant Akoth, but her effort went narrowly wide.

Despite Burundi’s increased pressure and attacking forays, the Junior Starlets remained composed, securing a historic qualification for the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

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