A brace by Nedy Atieno and another goal by Carolyne Omondi on Sunday handed Harambee Starlets a 3-2 win over Ethiopia in the first semi-final match of the 2016 Cecafa Women Championship in Njeru, Uganda.
Kenya will play Tanzania in the final after the latter defeated Uganda 4-1 in the second semi-final match.
It was a hard-fought victory for coach David Ouma’s Starlets from the onset as they struggled to command possession against Ethiopia who ensured Kenya did the chasing.
Despite coming out on top, for the first time at the Championship, Kenya conceded a goal and went into the break a goal down.
“We created four chances before Ethiopia scored their first goal, it was a sloppy goal from our side,” Ouma told Daily Nation Sport on Sunday.
“We had to work hard especially after Ethiopia made it hard for us to play through the middle, we had to use the wings and that’s when it got easy for us,” added the Dutch-trained tactician.
The first realistic chance of the game for Kenya came after 10 minutes when Mary Kinuthia was fouled but Ethiopia’s goalkeeper Liya Shibru comfortably contained Ekisa Akida’s free kick. Ethiopia’s backline stood firm, forcing Kinuthia and Akida to shoot from a distance.
After 18 minutes, Akida left Meskerem Kanko for dead before sending a powerful shot that beat Shibru in Ethiopia’s goal, only for the ball to bounce off the crossbar.
Then Ethiopia’s Tiruanchi Mengesha fouled Nedy Atieno in the penalty area, but Kinuthia’s effort kissed the crossbar on its way out. Ethiopia scored via Losa Abera soon afterwards, prompting Ouma to introduce Vivian Corozan and Elizabeth Ambogo for Doreen Nabwire and Cheris Salano respectively.
Three minutes to the break, Akida broke away from Ethiopia’s defence but could only shoot straight into Shibru’s hands.
Losa Abera almost doubled Ethiopia’s but her effort was tamed by Kenya’s goalkeeper Samantha Akinyi who had struggled to find her rhythm in her second game of the competition.
Three minutes into the second stanza, Akida was tripped by Tiruanchi Mengesha, the resulting free kick by Wendy-Ann Alouch hit the crossbar before Ethiopia’s defense recovered to deal with it.
KENYA DREW LEVEL
It was in the 51st minute that Kenya drew level, Nedy Atieno’s solo effort helped by Ethiopia’s clumsy defending had her shoot past Liya Shibru.
Shibru could only look on ad her save wasn’t strong enough to stop it from finding the back of the net.
“Sometimes you have to use your individual skills to make things happen, they (Ethiopia) tried to keep me out of the game but I knew it was just a matter of time and I would show them how it’s done,” said Atieno.
If the first half belonged to Ethiopia, the second was for Kenya, after 62 minutes good interplay between Akida and Atieno resulted into a second goal. Atieno shot past Liya Shibru as Kenya led for the first time.
Kenya stretched their lead, off Mary Kithunia’s set piece, Carolyne Omondi headed home after 73 minutes.
Nine minutes later, Kenya’s defense went to bed and Losa Abera punished them with her second of the afternoon.
“We played a good game, but didn’t really take most of our chances, congratulations to Kenya, they really showed a lot of character coming from a goal down to win the game,” Ethiopia’s coach Meseret Manni said after the game through an interpreter.
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