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Harambee Starlets narrowly lose out to Cameroon in Douala

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Harambee Starlets taking on Cameroon in Douala
Harambee Starlets taking on Cameroon in Douala
  • Starlets lost 1-0 to Cameroon
  • The Second leg will be played on Tuesday at the Nyayo Stadium
  • The winner progresses to the second and last qualifying round

National women’s football team Harambee Starlets narrowly lost out 1-0 to Cameroon in the first leg of the 2023 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) qualifier played in Douala on Friday night.

Eliane Manbolamo scored the solitary goal for the Indomitable Lionesses in the eighth minute of the game, a lead they jealously guarded till the final whistle to earn a small advantage.

Starlets now have work to do, though they will fancy their chances coming into the return tie in Nairobi next weekend. They need to win the game by a two-goal margin, while a 1-0 win will take the game to penalties.

“We played well and conceded from a setpiece which is something we will work on. I believe we have what it takes and we can overturn the result at home. We have seen our mistakes and we will work to rectify them. I am confident in my girls that they can do it,” stated the Harambee Starlets coach Beldine Odemba.

Her sentiments were echoed by skipper Ruth Ingotsi who said; “It was a very tight match. We have seen where we need to do better as a team and we will work hard to achieve a good result at home.”

Cameroon break the deadlock early 

Harambee Starlets taking on Cameroon in Douala

Harambee Starlets taking on Cameroon in Douala

Manbolamo took Cameroon into the lead in the eighth minute when she leaped highest inside the box to head home a corner from skipper Gabrielle Onguene. The home side had started fast off the blocks and were rewarded with an early goal.

Starlets sought to make an immediate response and when they won a freekick from distance, midfielder Corazone Aquino fancied her chances. However, her rasping effort only flew straight into the keeper’s arms.

Skipper Onguene, who plays her club football with CSKA Moscow in Russia was a constant pain for the Stars backline with her pace and trickery on the ball.

In the 17th minute, she had a good eye on goal when she snapped a shot from the edge of the box, but it rolled inches wide, with Starlets keeper Annedy Kundu sprawling desperately to cover her posts.

But, Starlets gradually grew into the game, and with some injection of confidence. In the 36th minute, they had a good chance to catch Cameroon on the break when they turned over possession, Esse Akida feeding Terry Engesha but the latter took a hurried shot, which flew wide.

Cameroons come close to a second 

Harambee Starlets taking on Cameroon in Douala

Harambee Starlets taking on Cameroon in Douala

Six minutes to the break, the Cameroonians almost scored an identical goal from another corner, but this time, Talon Meffometou’s header was blocked a yard off the goal by her own teammate.

In the second half, Cameroon came back with as much fire in their bellies as they had in the second half, but the Kenyan girls defended well. The high defensive line they put worked well, as they constantly caught out the Cameroonians offside.

However, offensively, the team wasn’t able to create much danger despite a change of personnel, a factor that coach Odemba and her team will need to work on ahead of the return tie in Nairobi.

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