Nairobi — National Women’s Premier League champions Vihiga Queens depart the country Thursday morning for Kampala, Uganda, where they will compete in the CECAFA regional qualifiers for the third edition of the CAF Women’s Champions League.
Heading to Kampala, the team has once again borrowed the expertise of coach Charles Okere, the same man who led them to the title in the inaugural Championship played on home soil in 2021.
Their regular coach, Boniface Nyamunyamu is not allowed to be the team’s head coach as he has not attained the certification required under the strict CAF Club Licensing rules.
Okere, an assistant coach at Tusker FC and the head coach of its Youth team, has been taking the team through its paces in Nairobi over the past four weeks.
“We have trained really well and continued to work on the philosophy of the team with the girls as well as reinforce the squad in areas we feel we need a bit of strength. The team is looking okay and we are ready for the task,” Okere told Capital Sport after a training session.
The side has lost almost 80percent of the players who helped them clinch the title in 2021, with the likes of Gentrix Shikangwa, who scored the winning goal in the final against CBE of Ethiopia having long moved on as have Enez Mango, Teresa Engesha and Vivian Nasaka, among others.
“We had very experienced players who have since left, especially in defense and we have tried to reinforce. We have retained most of the girls who won the league and this is now their chance to shine, just like those who left also had their chance. I have faith in the team and I am confident we will do well,” the tactician added.
Among the players that Okere has added into the team include Eunice Mwangi, Tumaini Waliaula and Martha Karani, three players who the coach believes have added a huge difference in the squad and will aid them clinch the crown.
“We are going to face champions from every country and it will be a tough tournament. But we are ready. We will battle for the title and I want to assure our fans and the country that we will come back with the trophy,” stated the tactician.
Vihiga did not defend the title last year as Kenya was locked out due to an existing FIFA suspension, and they ended losing the title to Tanzania’s Simba Queens.
As they return to the regional qualifiers, Okere is determined for victory and a ticket to play in the third edition of the Women’s Champions League.
Vihiga have been drawn in Group B with Tanzania’s JKT Queens, Zanzibar’s New Generation FC and AS Kigali Women of Rwanda.
They begin their campaign on Sunday against AS Kigali.
The tournament will have a new champion as defending champions Simba Queens did not qualify after losing their domestic title to JKT.