Substitute Marjolen Wafula and Martha Emedot scored a brace each as the Harambee Starlets Under-20 team put one foot into the first round of the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup qualifier with a 7-1 rout of hosts Botswana in Lobatse on Friday evening.
Barring catastrophe in the second leg set to be played on August 4 in Kenya, the junior Starlets have more or less progressed to the first round where they will meet neighbors Ethiopia.
“We played well and according to instructions and I am pleased with the performance today. Everyone played well. Marjolene is our super sub and when she came in she gave what we always want from her and performed well,” Starlets head coach Caroline Ajowi said.
She added; “We worked as a team because one strong thing about us is that we are like a family and that is how we get the results,” the coach added.
Ajowi further attributed the success in the preliminary round match to the team’s apt fitness with a bulk of the players having featured in the just concluded national school games in Nyeri.
“A bulk of our team is from secondary school and so most of them come into the team with good technical ability and the fitness levels are great as well. That is what has stood out for us today because the players were close knit also because of the good camp we have had,”
After a tough opening half where Kenya still managed to go into half time with a 2-1 lead, they came back more determined in the second 45 with Wafula hitting two quick fire goals before Corazone Aquino, Diana Mwihaki and Emedot contributed to the haul.
The Junior Starlets started the match well and broke the deadlock through Emedot before Cynthia Masungu took advantage of a defensive lapse in the hosts’ backline to make it 2-0.
The hosts, pushed by the home crowd put in concerted efforts to draw back on level terms and they got the much needed goal through a Leona Busang freekick which evaded the wall and beat Kenyan keeper Lilian Awuor.
If they manage to maintain the same performance against Ethiopia, Starlets will book a second round ticket against either Algeria or Ghana and from there, they will only be a step away from qualifying to the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup to be held in France.