Kenya outwit Malawi, through to third round

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Kenya’s Harambee Starlets overturned a 3-2 first leg defeat to thrash Malawi 3-0 in Machakos on Sunday evening to progress to the third round of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games qualifiers with a 5-3 aggregate victory.

Mwanahalima Adam struck a late second half brace to add on to Cynthia Shilwatso’s opener as the Kenyans progressed to the next round, keeping their dream of a maiden Olympic appearance alive.

"This shows that our new team is growing and headed in the right way" David

“I am really thrilled with the result today. We had told ourselves that we had a chance to win and we would give our all and the results were evident for us,” Mwanahalima said after the match.

Coach David Ouma was equally elated. “We showed hunger and fought from the first minute. We were a bit jittery especially at the start of the second half but we managed to hold on to win. This shows that our new team is growing and headed in the right way.”

Malawi head coach Abel Mkandawire admitted that his team did not turn up against a spirited Kenya. “They wanted it more than us and they were more disciplined in defense and attack. For us, things did not work out and we could not respond under pressure.”

Skipper Tabitha Chawinga said; “Kenya deserved to go through because they played really well. The whole of our team, we didn’t really play as well as we always do.”

Kenya’s strategy looked well on course; get an early goal and minimize any balls coming to Chawinga at all costs. The China based forward was the centre of everything in the first leg and they knew giving her space would be suicidal.

The first plot of earning an early goal yielded fruit after 19 minutes when Shilwatso struck a low shot from the edge of the box. Earlier, the home side had gone close when Elizabeth Wambui’s hit from the right came cracking against the upright.

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After going one up, Kenya had two more chances to extend the lead. First, danger girl Mwanahalima’s volley from inside the box going straight to the keeper while Gentrix Shikangwa’s freekick was turned behind for a corner.

In the second half, Malawi came back a stronger side and threatened Starlets from the first whistle. In the 55th minute, Madina Nguluwe came close with a freekick but the Kenyan keeper turned it behind for a corner.

Two minutes later, Tabitha had a shot come off the crossbar from a freekick and Nguluwe’s follow up was tipped over for a corner.

On the opposite end, Starlets should have taken the game to comfort, but Shilwatso was denied her second of the evening when her rasping shot from inside the box came against the bar.

The Starlets finally earned results for their industry when Adam made it 2-0 with 13 minutes left with a calm finish off a counter attack and she drove the final nail in Malawi’s coffin in the 88th minute with a sweet curling effort after a wicked turn to get off her marker.

Fixtures

01.09.2019 Nairobi Kenya 3-0 Malawi (2-3)

01.09.2019 Harare Zimbabwe vs Zambia* (0-5)

03.09.2019 Bamako Mali vs Cote d’Ivoire (0-3)

03.09.2019 Lagos Nigeria vs Algeria (2-0)

03.09.2019 Yaounde Cameroon vs Ethiopia (1-1)

03.09.2019 Accra Ghana vs Gabon (3-0)

03.09.2019 Johannesburg South Africa vs Botswana (0-0)

*Zambia qualify after Zimbabwe failed to show up for the second leg