Harambee Starlets dimmed by hosts Zimbabwe

By alex wafula
Sep 22, 2017
  • Rutendo Makore of Zimbabwe challenged by Juliet Andibo of Kenya during the 2017 Cosafa Women's Championship Semifinal football match at Barbourfields Stadium, Bulawayo. (Photo Courtesy)

  • Marjory Nyaumwe of Zimbabwe is challenged by Wendy Achieng Asol of Kenya during the 2017 Cosafa Women's Championship Semifinal football match at Barbourfields Stadium, Bulawayo. (Photo Courtesy)

Harambee Starlets’ hopes of reaching the final of the Cosafa Women’s Championship on their debut were shattered by hosts Zimbabwe who won 4-0 in Bulawayo on Thursday evening.

Kenya, the only team to reach the final four unbeaten failed to score for the first time, having scored 17 goals in three matches.

They failed to handle the pressure with the hosts home support at the the Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo.

“We lost today because of the mental part of the game. I have many new and young girls in the team and they failed to deal well with the pressure. It wasn’t one of our best days today,” Richard Kanyi, the Harambee Starlets coach commented after the match.

The hosts were confident and scored two goals in each half.

“Kenya is a good team, but today we were better. We decided to take control of this game from the start and it paid off. We were more organized and our strategy was to make sure we kept the ball,” Sithethelelwe Sibanda, the Zimbabwe coach stated.

Zimbabwe will now play South Africa in the final, a repeat of the 2011 final.

The Banyana Banyana produced an incredible comeback, scoring in the 77th, 79th and 83rd minutes, coming from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 and beat Zambia 5-3 on post match penalties.

As a result, Zambia will face Kenya in the playoff on Saturday.

Punished for poor defending

In this match against Zimbabwe, Harambee Starlets took time to settle. They were punished for poor defending after 10 minutes.

Rutendo Makore capitalized on a missed clearance by Juliet Auma, picking the ball inside the box and firing past Pauline Atieno in the Kenya goal.

Makore had had threatened early but her shot was saved by Atieno just three minutes before scoring.

It was a frustrating evening for Kenya. They failed to knit even the simplest of passes with star striker Neddy Atieno finding it hard to get space for her daunting runs.

Kenya’s hopes of getting back on level terms were dashed a minute to halftime when Dorcas Shikobe’s headed clearance from a long ball bounced on Berita Kabwe’s chest.

The Zimbabwe forward surged forward and shot low past the keeper for a 2-0 lead at half time.

Eight minutes into the second half, a miscommunication from keeper Atieno and defender Auma saw Marjory Nyaumwe’s harmless looking freekick from the left trickle into the net.

The third goal was more or less like a pin into Kenya’s balloon of hopes. Harambee Starlets drastically died down in their pace and ambition and Zimbabwe were more relaxed.

Tactical substitution

Coach Kanyi tried to rescue the situation by bringing in Cherish Avilia and Mercy Achieng in place of Lucy Mukhwana and Caroline Kiget because Harambee Starlets had been utterly dominated in midfield.

The introduction of the two was meant to stabilize things and put Kenya’s game back on track.

Achieng threatened on the left side of attack but still, the Zimbabwe defense remained solid. 

In the 73rd minute, Makore who had been Zimbabwe’s most dangerous player almost made it 4-0 but her header at the backpost when keeper Atieno had missed the ball went narrowly wide.

Achieng had Kenya’s only shot on target the entire match when she skipped past a few legs at the edge of the box but her shot was collected by the keeper.

The hosts then drove the final nail in Kenya’s coffin four minutes from time when Privilege Mupeti slammed the ball home after another defensive mistake by Harambee Starlets.