MACHAKOS, August 1 – Harambee Starlets quest to play at the 2016 Rio Olympics was cut short after losing 1-0 to South Africa in the return-leg of third round qualifier played at Machakos Stadium on Sunday.
The loss saw Kenya bundled out 2-0 on aggregate after going down by the same margin in the first-leg away in Johannesburg where Lerato Ramalepe snatched the winner.
Rhodah Mlauzi was Banyana Banyana’s hero in the return, after scoring the only goal on the half-hour mark when she dribbled from the left to uncork a shot past Pauline Atieno to book a date with the winner between Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea.
Starlets head coach, David Ouma hailed his charges for the performance and called on Football Kenya Federation to maintain the team.
“Congratulations to the girls for reaching this level. We had a slow start in the game and the opponents utilized that to punish us. The girls need a pat at the back and people should trust in women football.
“They should come in to support them especially in the league,” Ouma, who also doubles up as Sofapaka assistant coach said.
Banyana head coach, Vera Pauw made two changes with Iceland-based Roxanne Barker and Busisiwe Ndimeni of Mamelodi Sundowns returning to the team after injury ruled them out of the first-leg.
Starlets, who entered the match motivated after receiving boots from Machakos Governor, Dr. Alfred Mutua, started the game slowly, giving the visitors confidence to utilize their chances and score the important away goal.
Ouma’s double substitution of Carol Achieng and Veronica Wafula for Cheris Avila and Tabaka Chacha in the second half changed the tempo but still none could find the back of the net.
Banyana keeper denied Wendy Achieng after parrying her set-piece before clearing a Wafula left foot shot from close range.