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Vihiga ready for CAF Women’s Champions League debut

Vihiga Queens players line up before a past match

Vihiga Queens will play their first ever match at the CAF Women’s Champions League on Saturday evening when they take on South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies in Cairo.

This is the first ever edition of the Women’s Champions League in Africa and it is being played by eight teams ,representing all the CAF regions in a tournament format in Cairo.

Vihiga who are representing the East and Central African (CECAFA) region are out to make and impression and the four time Kenyan champions have set themselves a lofty target of making the semi-finals of the tournament.

“We believe we can do it and we really believe in the abilities of our girls. Looking at how we have been playing and how we have prepared so far, I believe that it is something that is achievable,” coach Benjamin Nyamunyamu said.

The same sentiments are shared by skipper Enez Mango.

Vihiga Queens players

“We have to set ourselves a big target and with the way we have handled ourselves and the confidence we have picked over time, it is not something that is very hard to achieve. If we keep our focus and continue working hard, I believe we will make the mark,” the left back said.

Vihiga won the Kenyan Women’s Premier League title four times in a row and only lost it at the play-off stage this season.

They earned the right to represent Kenya in the CECAFA qualifiers by virtue of winning the 2019 title, with the league having been called off in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the regional qualifiers, Vihiga bounced back from a poor start losing to Ethiopia’s Commercial Bank in their first game of the tournament to go on and beat the same opponents 2-1 in the final.

“When we started off, I think my players had some bit of stage fright because for most of them, it was the first time ever that they were playing at such a stage. But we quickly learned our lessons re-evaluated our strategies and improved on some few areas and that is why we had a good tournament from then on,” Nyamunyamu recalls.

Vihiga Queens coach Benjamin Nyamunyamu

“Being at that stage is motivation enough. I want to really thank CAF for this noble idea because for a long time, as women footballers, we have lacked these platforms to show ourselves to the rest of the world. The only time we play international matches is during national team assignments,” says captain Mango.

“Now we have this tournament to not only prove that Kenyan and East African football is growing, but also play at a huge stage and earn ourselves more accolades as players,” she adds.

Coach Nyamunyamu says; “I have told the girls that this is their time to shine. This is their time to make a difference for themselves by doing well in a continental assignment. Most girls have lacked the opportunity to show the world what they can do and as Africa, taking this step is a huge one for our football,”

Vihiga Queens players celebrate a goal in a past match

“The girls know that this will be a stage to put themselves out there on the market. Kenyan football has grown over the past few years with more girls travelling abroad to play professional football and with the Champions League, there comes another opportunity to have even more players move,” he adds.

For the Champions League, Vihiga have been drawn against Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies of South Africa, AS FAR Rabat of Morocco and Nigeria’s Rovers Angels in Pool B.

“This is a tough group, but we will endeavour to come out of it and finish in the top two. We are up to the task and we will do it,” Nyamunyamu underscores.

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