Goals from Terry Engesha and Esse Akida in each half of the match handed Harambee Starlets a crucial 2-1 win against Equatorial Guinea in an Africa Women Cup of Nations final round qualifier as the opponents walked away with an away goal.
Starlets had a chance to open the scoring two minutes into the game when their first move into Equatorial Guinea half found Neddy Atieno well positioned but goalkeeper Lucrecia Boabaila blocked her shot.
David Ouma’s charges boasted ball possession for the for the first quarter of the hour with Guinea’s chance at goal coming on the 18th minute through a Gonoveva Anonman shot from outside the box which was saved by keeper Poline Atieno.
After 30 minutes of blow-by-blow exchange between the two sides, Starlets won a free kick just outside the box after dimunitive striker Mwanahalima Adam was felled.
Lilian Adera’s kick bounced off the post and Neddy got to it heading what would have been Kenya’s first but she was ruled offside.
Ten minutes later, Jade Sayo rose above three Starlets defenders to head home Guinea’s first. The visitors’ celebration was however short-lived as, Starlets, playing with a newfound urgency netted the equaliser in the 42nd minute off of an Engesha’s well calculated long shot that caught keeper Boabaila off guard as she helplessly watched the ball loop past her into the empty net.
With a minute of added time in the first half, both teams looked to intend on guarding their goal as opposed to taking the lead, the match going to the breather on a 1-1draw.
Eight minutes into the second half, Guinea brought in Luz Obiang for Celestina Besecu while Ouma introduced Esse Akida for Sheryll Angachi in the 55th minute.
Back to back attempts by Starlets in the subsequent minutes kept the Kenyan fans on their feet with two headers from corner kicks being saved by Guinea keeper.
Second half substitute Akida, who came in for Neddy scored the winner for Starlets in the 80th minute after another substitute Cynthia Shilwatso provided the ball for the assist.
“It is a hard fought win and I congratulate the players. Our attack was good but we have to utilise the set pieces when we play away as we would have won with a much higher score but we did not convert the set pieces,” said coach Ouma.
A draw of any kind away on Saturday will hand Ouma’s charges a ticket to the AWCON later in the year and a chance to fight for a place in the 2019 Women World Cup.