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AWCON: Bashed Starlets return home

By Sampson Adedeji
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Kenya’s Harambee Starlets are expected back in the country on Monday at 6.55pm from Cameroon

where they received a baptism of fire in the Africa Women Cup of Nations.

Starlets lost all their three group matches against Ghana, Mali and Nigeria, soaking in 10 goals for

two scored, to finish bottom of Group B in their debut outing at the continental showpiece. Nigeria and Ghana finished top of the group withseven points each and will now lock horns with Group A qualifiers South Africa and hosts

Cameroon respectively in the semi-finals on Tuesday. Kenya coach David Ouma said that the three losses have taught his team some tough and

valuable lessons, and that focus now shifts to the 2018 edition of the tournament. “I expected that we would win at least one game and draw another, but that did not happen. Our

opponents were a little stronger than us but we have come out stronger. “Our focus now moves to the qualification phase of the next Afcon edition in 2018. That event will be particularly significant because the semi- finalists will get direct tickets to the next (Fifa

Women’s) World Cup,” he said.
Starlets began their Afcon campaign on Sunday with a 3-1 loss against regular campaigners Ghana.

Outstanding Esse Akida wrote some football history by scoring Kenya’s first goal in the competition. Fighting Kenya went down by a similar result against Mali in their second match with midfielder Cherise Avilia accounting for the first timer’s goal. Their final game against Nigeria was if little significance for Kenya who were now out of the

reckoning for a semi-finals sport.
They were duly crushed 4-0 by the African giants and tournament favourites to end a rude reality check on elite women’s football. Football pundits have pointed at inexperience as

Kenya’s main undoing in Cameroon but the team will also consider goalkeeping as one of their big weakness at the competition. Ouma had opted to start with Spedag goalkeeper Samantha Akinyi in the first two games, but the

21-year-old was repeatedly found wanting with her poor judgement and lack of composure that told in how goals leaked in. Poor Samantha was unsurprisingly replaced by Vivian Akinyi in the final game against Nigeria,

but it never really mattered. The defending champions ran over the east African upstarts at Limbe. The continental action continues tomorrow. Hosts Cameroon will play Ghana in Yaoundé in the first semi-final, as defending champions Nigeria tackle

South Africa’s Banyana Banyana in Limbe. Winners of the competition will walk away with $50,000 (about Sh5 million)