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History as Harambee Starlets qualify for AFCON

The national women’s football team on Tuesday evening made history by booking their place at the Africa Cup of Nations finals after settling for a 1-1 with Algeria at Safaricom Stadium, Kasarani.

The outcome means that the Harambee Starlets have earned their place at the continental showpiece for the first time ever on the away goal rule having held the Algerians to a 2-2 draw away in Algiers on Friday night.

The Kenyan girls were, however, made to fight for their tickets after conceding first. Algeria struck against the run of play in the 20th minute the dangerous attacker, Bouheni Naima poking home from inside the box.

The determined Starlets equalised with a quarter of an hour left when substitute Cheris Avilia struck with a power drive to spark off wild celebrations on the team’s bench and among the fans in attendance.

“This is history that has been made. We have done it against all the odds. No one gave us a chance but we have done it without sponsors,”an emotional, hoarse voiced, Starlets head coach, David Ouma said.


“Algeria knew that a win would put them through and we did very well. We played a good experienced team and we pressurized well to get an equaliser.”

The Kenyan girls will now play at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon in November.

News of the team’s qualification was greeted by celebration and messages of congratulations. Deputy President William Ruto led Kenyan fans in sending goodwill messages to the triumphant team.

“Congratulations to the Harambee Starlets for making history by qualifying for African Cup of Nations. This is a big win and a massive boost for the women’s game in Kenya. Your success is an  inspiration for young girls across Kenya and affirmation that they too can make it in the game,” Ruto said in a statement shortly after the match.

“We are behind you and we will support you all the way at the Cup of Nations as you make Kenya even prouder and lift our name higher,” added the DP.

Starlets lineup: Samantha Akinyi, Anne Aluoch (Cheris Avilia), Wendy Ann, Irene Awuor, Nixon Dorcas, Neddy Atieno, Carolyne Anyango (Vivian Odhiambo), Jereko Mwanalima, Tabaka Chacha, Mary Kinuthia, Esse Mbeyu

Reporting by Isaac Swila and David Kwalimwa