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The Harambee Starlets etched their names in Kenyan football history by becoming the first football national team, men or women, to qualify for a FIFA World Cup. They achieved this incredible feat by defeating Burundi 2-0 in the second leg of their U-19 World Cup qualifier, bringing the aggregate score to a dominant 5-0.

Ball boys carry the flags of the two competing countries onto the field just before the game starts
Harambee Starlet technical bench led by Coach Mildred Cheche (carrying a bag) headed for the bench minutes before the match against Burundi U19 started

The victory unfolded at a packed Ulinzi Sports Complex in Langata Nairobi. The girls wasted no time showcasing their determination, with Lornah Faith and Susan Akoth narrowly missing early goals. However, the dam finally broke in the 17th minute. A goalkeeping error by Burundi presented Marion Serenge with a golden opportunity, which she capitalized on to put Kenya ahead.

Kenya take the lead in the 17th minute courtesy of Marion Serenge, who found herself unmarked and easily tapped the ball into the back of the net

Six minutes later, Valerie Nekesa doubled the lead with a well-placed shot after dispossessing a Burundian defender. The electric atmosphere and their commanding performance fueled the Starlets’ confidence, and they cruised through the rest of the first half.

Kenya’s Harambee Starlets head Coach Mildred Cheche gives instructions by the touchline at the Ulinzi Sports Complex, Sunday, Jun 15 6 2024
During the crucial U19 qualifier game, Kenyan winger Lorna Faith demonstrates her impressive dribbling skills, leaving two Burundi defenders in her wake
On the sidelines, Kenya’s Junior Starlets substitutes stay loose with drills as the game unfolds

Burundi attempted a comeback in the second half, but the Kenyan defense, led by captain Elizabeth Ochaka, remained resolute. 

FIFA, CAF, Kenya and Burundi flags fly above the stand during the FIFA Women’s U19 World Cup qualifiers between Kenya and Burundi played in Ulinzi Sports Complex
Football fans from all walks of life came together to cheer Harambee Starlets to victory
Football fans waving flags in a vibrant display of support for their national team

With the final whistle, pure joy erupted as the Junior Starlets secured their historic qualification for the U-19 World Cup, set to take place in the Dominican Republic later in October and November 2024. This victory is a testament to the talent, dedication, and fighting spirit of the young Kenyan footballers.

The scoreboard flickers with each point, a silent witness to the Starlets’ determined march towards a historic achievement