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Kenya assume slender lead to Uganda in Nations Cup qualifier

Lynette Matheka @PeopleSports11

Harambee Starlets have an edge over Uganda’s Crested Cranes on the road to Ghana for this year’s Africa Women’s Cup of Nations after beating their neighbours 1-0 in the opening round first leg at Machakos’ Kenyatta Stadium yesterday.

Starlets came to the match as favourites having defeated Uganda 4-0 in their previous two meetings but it was not to be this time as three brilliant saves from Cranes goalkeeper Ruth Aturo denied them a big winning margin. “We made the goalkeeper look good today with those three saves.

The little time we have before the return leg I will use it to correct that and find a better way to beat her, “ said Starlets coach David Ouma. Starlets started the match strongly, winning their first corner kick in the seventh minute but Mwanahalima Adam’s cross went over the crossbar.

Ouma’s charges pitched tent in Uganda’s half for the first quarter of the match with the Crested Cranes’ first attempt at goal coming in the 20th minute.

A series of attacks ensued thanks to forwards Neddy Atieno, Esse Akida, who had recovered from an injury in time for the clash, as well as Cynthia Shilwatso but most fell in the safe hands of Aturo.

Uganda won their first corner in the 27th minute after veteran goalkeeper Pauline Atieno failed to control a back pass gifting Uganda their first set piece but she atoned for her mistake with a superb save as the match headed to the break goal-less.

On resumption, Ouma brought in Corazone Aquino for Under-20 national team forward Shilwatso as the search for goals intensified. Lilian Adera then gave Starlets the lead on the hour mark when her shot from 50 yards brushed past a helpless Aturo, spilling into the net.

Starlets would have made it 2-0 five minutes later as Adam dribbled past three defenders only for her shot to be stopped by Aturo. Substitute Aquino got to the spilled ball but with the goalmouth at her mercy but sent her shot wide.

Uganda came close to netting the equaliser through a counter attack but their efforts failed to yield much as left footed captain Wendy Achieng got to the ball that was headed for the goal first.

“We tried to control the game but the first half was slow and I had to inject speed and that’s how we scored the goal. We had good build ups from the back and that’s what I have been working on,” added Ouma, whose team face the Cranes in Kampala in the second leg on Saturday.

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