National women’s Starlets fall to Malawi but gain two away goals
National women’s football team, Harambee Starlets, head to the return leg of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics qualifier against Malawi’s She-Flames with two-away goals after losing 3-2 to their hosts yesterday.
This was the first competitive match for Starlets after the June call up that saw most of the experienced and regular players dropped. The side was coming off a 3-2 win against Ethiopia in a friendly match played at Machakos Stadium last week in preparation for the Malawi encounter.
“I can give the players a 90 per cent performance. We were confident of advancing to the next level even before we came to Malawi. The game was fair but the officiating was questionable. We will be looking for a win in the return match,” said team manager Jackline Juma.
Coach David Ouma had made two changes to the starting lineup he used in the 3-2 win against Ethiopia, starting Sheril Angachi and Janet Bundi in place of Lydia Akoth and Topister Situma.
Ouma’s charges had their first real chance at goal in the eighth minute when Cynthia Shilwatso got to the end of a Mwanahalima Adam corner kick but her header hit the crossbar.
Five minutes later, Madina Nguluwe opened the scoring for the hosts from a free-kick. Shilwatso was again denied by the crossbar in the 32nd minute with the follow-through header by Adam going wide. Ouma’s charges equalised two minutes later from a Shilwatso free-kick.
The East African’s celebrations were, however, short-lived as the She-Flames again assumed the lead through skipper Tabitha Chawinga after her sister Temwa Chawinga beat three defenders to deliver the ball to the onside captain for a tap in.
Five minutes to the breather, Chawinga added her second and the team’s third for the match to go to on the break with Malawi holding a two-goal advantage.
Kenya began the second half without coach Ouma. It was alleged he had hurt himself after banging on a glass door in rage as the teams headed to the changing room at the break.
Juma in charge, Wincate Kaari was introduced few minutes into the relatively slow second half. Ouma re-joined the bench in the 72nd minute and immediately brought in Jentrix Shikangwa for goal scorer Shilwatso.
The Kenyan players seemed hungrier for a second goal and their work paid off in the 80th minute.