Harambee Starlets beat Cameroon on penalties to book second round date with Botswana


FOOTBALL Harambee Starlets beat Cameroon on penalties to book second round date with Botswana

Festus Chuma 17:16 - 26.09.2023

Harambee Starlets advanced to the next round of the 2024 AWCON after defeating Cameroon in a penalty shootout at Nyayo National Stadium.

Harambee Starlets secured a spot in the next round of the 2024 Africa Women's Cup of Nations (WAFCON) qualifiers by defeating Cameroon in a penalty shootout at Nyayo National Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.

Despite dominating the second leg and securing a 1-0 victory against the Central Africans, Kenya needed a 4-3 win in penalties to advance to the second round following a 1-1 aggregate draw.

Enez Mango replaced Wincate Kaari in the starting lineup, Jentrix Shikangwa started in place of Cynthia Shilawatso, and Phoebe Aketch took over for Juliet Andipo.

Nonetheless, the opening stages of the game was a tightly fought contest with Cameroon happy to just keep possession and build from the back. 

But with 10 minutes played Starlets were looking to use their pace upfront to their advantage. Just when Kenya thought they found an opening as they were played through on goal, Bihina Michaely showed that she was up to the task as she averted the danger.

Clear-cut chances were proving to be at a premium in the game as Kenya were defending from the front and starved  Cameroon of possession as the game went past the half-hour mark. Without midfield maestro  Charlene Meyong in the middle of the park, Cameroon were struggling in their transition from defence to attack in the first half.

This lack of transition saw Ajara Njoya consistently isolated upfront which also required Ngo Beleck to fall deeper in order to get the ball which frustrated the Indomitable Lionesses team. But try as Cameroon might they could not find the net as they headed into half-time deadlocked.

The resumption of the second half was a far more free-flowing affair as Harambee Starlets looked to up the ante. Kenya perhaps should have done better just after the break as Jenrix Shikangwa failed to hold onto a cross, but Phoebe Awitis's effort lacked the necessary venom and was cleared off the line by the Cameroon defender.

With the game having reached the hour mark, Harambee Starlets were bossing the play, and once again they were struggling to break down Cameroon’s defence, which were resolute. Kenya though, did threaten from a free kick that had Bihina worried as the ball sailed just over the bar from Mwanahalima Adam well struck an effort from the edge of the box.

Although, the action on the field was leaving much to be desired as neither side were able to grab the ascendency, in the stands the fans were clearly enjoying themselves. In an effort to turn things around and find a breakthrough, Odemba threw on their perennial game changer Elizabeth Wambui and Cynthia Shilwatso.

The change brought more pace in the attack and Harambee Starlets finally broke the deadlock in the 75th minute when substitute Shilwatso's shot from the left sailed into the net, 1-0.

Harambee Starlets continued to pile on the pressure and went close in the 87th minute but another fine stop from Bihina denied them from getting the second goal.

Jean Baptiste Bisseck's side struggled to create openings in the closing stages but nearly found the back of the net as Ngo Beleck’s stinging effort went over the bar.

 Harambee Starlets' goalkeeper Annecy Kundu was the hero after she saved a penalty from Claudine Menene. Although Falone's shot hit the post and Ruth Ingosi missed her attempt, Sherly Andiba scored, ensuring Kenya's progression.

How they lined up:

Harambee Starlets: Annedy Kundu, Enez Mango, Esse Akida, Jentrix Shikangwa, Mwanahalima Adam, Phoebe Awiti, Ruth Ingosi,  Sherly Angachi, Teressa Engesha, Vivian Corazone, Vivian Nasaka

Cameroon: Bihina, Meffometou Tchengang, Mayi, Ngock, Ngock Yango, Ngo Mbelek,  Nchout Ajara, Ambam,  Aboudi