Captain Elizabeth Ochaka dreams big with Junior Starlets

Junior Starlets

Kenyan midfielder Joan Ogola tussles for the ball Ethiopia's Mahelet Mitiku during the 2024 Fifa Under-17 Women's World Cup qualifier at Ulinzi Sports Complex in Nairobi on May 19, 2024.

Photo credit: Courtesy of FKF

What you need to know:

  • Kenya will be away to Burundi on June 6, with the return match on June 14.
  • Kenya last played Burundi in 2019 during the Cecafa U-17 Championship.

Kenya's Junior Starlets captain Elizabeth Ochaka is eagerly anticipating the final round of the 2024 Fifa Under-17 Women's World Cup qualifiers against Burundi next month.

The 16-year-old, who scored the opening goal of their 3-0 win over Ethiopia in the return leg of their third-round clash at Ulinzi Sports Complex, is already dreaming of leading the side at their first-ever World Cup.

“Reaching the final stage of the qualifiers feels fantastic. This is something that has never happened in Kenyan women's football, and we take pride in representing our nation. We aim to reach the World Cup and showcase Kenya's talent to the world,” she told Nation Sport on Monday.

Ochaka scored via a powerful header from defender Christine Adhiambo's corner kick in the 44th minute, before Velma Awuor and substitute Lorna Faith sealed the victory with goals in the 55th and 70th minutes respectively.

Realizing the country's dream

“It is within our reach, and we believe we can achieve it. We hope that Kenyans will remember us for realizing the country's dream of participating in the global football showpiece," said the Wiyeta Girls Secondary School alumni. 

Elizabeth Ochaka

Kenya Under-17 national team captain Elizabeth Ochaka during a training session at Dandora Stadium in Nairobi on May 7, 2024.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Kenya will be away to Burundi in the first leg on June 6, with the return match scheduled for June 14 at the Ulinzi Sports Complex.

Burundi secured their spot in the final round by defeating Djibouti 24-0 on aggregate.

The last time Kenya faced Burundi was in 2019 during the Cecafa Under-17 Championship in Uganda with the Junior Starlets winning 3-2 courtesy of a hattrick from Zetech Sparks striker Ann Arusi.

Kenya finished in third position following a 2-0 defeat to Uganda in the semifinals. 

Ticket to the World Cup

The winner between Kenya and Burundi will earn a ticket to the World Cup.

The other final round qualifying ties will feature Zambia against Morocco and Liberia versus Nigeria.

Africa will be represented by three teams in the World Cup finals in the Dominican Republic from October 16 to November 3. Sixteen teams will grace the global tournament.

This year's World Cup will be the final edition featuring 16 teams before being expanded to 24 teams in the subsequent tournament.

Meanwhile, with the Junior Starlets preparing for the Burundi match, Harambee Stars will also be seeking qualification to the 2026 Fifa World Cup.