NAIROBI, April 8 – Harambee Starlets are one match away from making history as the first Kenyan football women’s team to qualify for Africa Cup of Nations after holding hosts Algeria 2-2 in the first-leg of the final 2016 qualifier in Algiers on Friday night.
Starlets were destined for a precious win after Mwanalima Adam had tapped home Kenya’s second goal in the 85th minute, but a header from Naima Bouhane ensured the two sides share spoils.
Algeria had began the game well, dominating proceedings and pushing in attack from the first whistle.
Bouheni opened the scores for the hosts in the 28th minute, taking advantage of a defensive slack on the Kenyan side to score past keeper Samantha Akinyi.
The hosts piled pressure powered by the early goal and they should have had a second later, but Akinyi managed to thwart the efforts.
After the breather, Algeria kept their pressure to take the game into a comfortable lead but the Starlets were never going to take it lying low.
They responded by exerting pressure on their hosts and it finally paid off in the 78th minute when captain Fatima Sekouane found the back of her own net to hand Kenya the equaliser.
Seven minutes later, Starlets were in seventh heaven when16-year old school girl Adam tapped home the second after Neddie Atieno’s initial effort hit the crossbar.
However, the precious win in sight was squashed a minute to time when unmarked Bouheni headed home inside the box to take the North Africans back into the match.
Starlets just need a one-all draw at home on Tuesday to book her place in the finals slatted for November in Cameroon.
“I’m really proud of the girls because that result in North Africa is huge. However, they should not be comfortable because it is never over until it is over,” team manager Doreen Nabwire told Capital Sport.
“We are on the verge of making history and I believe that motivation will push them on. I know we are capable, it is only a matter of putting our heads down and working for it,” she added.
It will be a huge achievement for the girls if they pick an AFCON ticket especially putting into perspective the minimal investment put on them in the last few years.