FIFA U17 World Cup qualifier: Junior Starlets hold firm against Ethiopia to secure draw in Addis Ababa

FIFA U17 World Cup qualifier: Junior Starlets hold firm against Ethiopia to secure draw in Addis Ababa

Festus Chuma 17:00 - 10.05.2024

The Junior Starlets delivered a resilient defensive performance against Ethiopia, securing a crucial result in their Women's World Cup qualifier.

Kenya women's Under-17 national team put in a superb rearguard action to hold Ethiopia to a goalless draw at the Abebe Bikila Stadium in Addis Ababa on Friday in the first leg of the third round of the Women’s World Cup qualifier.

The Junior Starlets, led by an impeccable performance from goalkeeper Velma Abwire, were able to handle anything Ethiopia threw at them and will be delighted with having secured an away draw.

Following a confident start from Ethiopia, the hosts could have gone in front after the 18th minute when Mahlet Mitiku's strike was saved by Velma Abwire.

Ethiopia then had their keeper to thank as Abebayehu Tassew blocked Marion Serenge’s close-range effort.

Birhan Hailesilasie was proving the focal point for all of Ethiopia’s attacking play in the first half and the striker went close after an hour mark flashing a snapshot just wide of the right post after some good build-up play.

But Kenya looked dangerous on the break and nearly found the back on the net minute when Halima Imbachi missed an excellent chance to make it 1-0.

The attacking midfielder was played through on goal by substitute Susan Akoth but she sent her chipped shot high over the bar.

Kenya started the second half positively with Valerie Nekesa sending a long-distance shot minutes after the restart.

Ten minutes later Ethiopia's Hirut Tesfaye was at it again when she worked himself into space just outside the box, but once more she shot wide of goal.

Ethiopia continued to dictate the flow of play, but their decision making in the final third was poor as the game ended goalless.

The second leg is scheduled for May 19 at the Ulinzi Sports Complex in Nairobi where the Starlets will hope to capitalize on their home advantage.

The winner of this matchup will progress to the fourth and final round, facing either Djibouti or Burundi for the chance to represent Cecafa at the 2024 Under-17 Women’s World Cup in the Dominican Republic.

How they lined up:

Ethiopia: Abebayehu Tassew, Lemlem Astatke, Mitike Birhanu, Asore Hayso, Hirut Tesfaye (C), Manayesh Tesfaye, Melat Getachew, Birhan Hailesilasie, Hidat Kassu, Saba Hailemikael, and Mahlet Mitiku.

Subs: Roman Ambaye, Mekdes Kebede, Fikreaddis Gezahegn, Hana Sisay, Helen Mengistu, Tarik Petros, and Aynalem Alemayehu.

Kenya: 1. Velma Abwire, 16. Christine Adhiambo, 3. Kimberly Akinyi, 19. Lorine Ilavonga, 12. Elizabeth Ochaka, 9. Velma Awuor,   10. Marion Serenge, 17. Halima Imbachi, 13. Valerie Nekesa, 14. Lorna Faith, 11. Diana Anyango.

Subs: 23. Ephy Awuor, 21. Brenda Awuor, 6. Susan Akoth, 7. Quinter Adhiambo, 25. Sheryl Atieno, 8. Lindey Weey Atieno, 15. Judith Nandwa