Harambee Starlets came from behind to beat Mozambique 5-2 in their CECAFA Women’s Championship opening match at Luveve Stadium in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe thanks to Neddy Atieno. Player-of-the-match Neddy Atieno scored a hat-trick as Starlets came from down twice to beat Mozambique 5-2 in the Cosafa Women’s Championship.
Kenya’s other scorers were Vihiga Queens’ Phoebe Okech, who scored from a brilliant free-kick from the left side, and Mombasa Olympic’s Mwanahalima Adam. A record field of 12 teams, including guest nation Kenya, are featuring in the tournament which is a build-up for the African Women’s Championship qualifiers that start early next year. Starlets scored three goals in the final six minutes of the game to give new head coach Richard Kanyi a winning start as the national team boss.
“We had a strategy coming into the second half because Mozambique had taken us by surprise in the first half. We decided to be patient building up from behind and the strategy worked. I brought in faster players in the second half and that worked well for us,” an excited Kanyi said after the victory.
However, starlets were struck unexpectedly by Mozambique after Lucia Leila converted a freekick from the edge of the box catching keeper Jenipher Odhiambo off guard. Three minutes later equalized when Neddy struck from inside the box after beating down two of her markers. Lucia completed her brace in the second half after being given shooting space by the Kenyan defense from the edge of the area to go top again.
Starlets came back ten minutes later through a header from diving Atieno. Coach Kanyi had to bring in Janet Bundi for Lucy Mukhwana, a change meant to add pace in attack and that didn’t disappoint as starlets escalated their attack as warning to Mozambique.
Mozambique opened her doors in the 84th minute when Adam struck from close range after Owiti’s shot inside the box from a Dorris Anyango cross that gave chance to Adam who strike home. Atieno completed her hat-trick in sublime fashion in the 87th minute where Owiti then put the stroke on 90 minutes, striking home straight from a freekick after Adam had been axed on the left.
Kenya is in Group ‘B’ of the Cosafa tournament alongside Mozambique, Swaziland and Mauritius and they will be competing for the ultimate prize against 11 other teams from the Southern African region.