NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 11 – Harambee Starlets’ hopes of making it into the Olympic Games for the first time in the country’s history came tumbling down like a pack of cards on Monday evening after bowing out in the penultimate round of qualification following a 1-0 loss away to Zambia.
The Copper Queens went through 3-2 on aggregate having played to a 2-2 draw in the first leg in Nairobi and the second leg victory courtesy of Lushomo Mweemba’s freekick ensured they progressed to the final round of qualification.
Starlets finished the game with 10 players after Ruth Ingosi was shown a straight red card for a dangerous tackle late in added time.
David Ouma’s girls will now switch their attention to the CECAFA Senior Women’s Challenge Cup which kicks off this coming weekend in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Starlets were playing dangerously on the back foot in the opening half hour of the game and were only fortunate to go back to the dressing room still level at 0-0.
Rachel Kundananji who scored in the first leg in Nairobi wasted two glorious opportunities to put the Copper Queens ahead, one from the penalty spot.
In the 12th minute, she broke into the penalty area to face keeper Annette Kundu one on one, but fired the final shot against the crossbar.
-Kundu great save
In the 18th minute, she picked out Rachel Nachula with a brilliant defense splitting pass from midfield, but Kundu made a brilliant save one on one to block the resultant effort.
Three minutes later, the home girls won a penalty after danger girl Barbra Banda was axed inside the box by Sheryl Angachi after dribbling her way into the danger zone.
Kundananji stepped on the resultant spot kick but sent a timid effort against the crossbar with keeper Kundu also going the right way.
Starlets slowly grew into the game and the penalty miss by Zambia seemed to have given them some renewed home. They had a sniff at goal in the 26th minute when Cynthia Shilwatso’s effort from distance was blocked for a corner.
On the half hour mark, Mwanahalima Adam picked out Elizabeth Wambui with a superb split pass, but the latter’s shot went just over.
Shilwatso then forced the Zambian keeper into an acrobatic save a minute from halftime with a well struck freekick from range as Starlets continued knocking on the door for a goal.
In the second half, the Zambians kept their pressure and it bore fruit in the 58th minute when Mweemba’s long range freekick slipped through keeper Kundu’s legs.
Starlets tried to pile pressure knowing they needed two goals to turn the tie in their favor with coach David Ouma bringing in Topister Situma and Janet Bundi, but nothing could swing the pendulum in their favor.