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Adam guides Harambee Starlets closer to Olympic slot

FOOTBALL By Rodgers Eshitemi | September 2nd 2019
Harambee Starlet's Mwanalima Adam celebrates her goal against Malawi during 2020 Olympic qualifier return leg match at Kenyatta Stadium. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Diminutive Thika Queens forward Mwanalima Adam scored a second half brace as Harambee Starlets trounced Malawi’s She-Flames 3-0 in yesterday’s return leg match of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Qualifiers played behind closed doors at Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos.

The emphatic victory saw the David Ouma-trained side qualify to the third round of the competition with a 5-3 on aggregate score following their 3-2 defeat in Blantyre last week.

The Starlets will meet with either giants Ghana or Gabon in the next round.

“This is a relatively new team, but I’m impressed with their performance. We kept it tight at the back with a very youthful team. We are looking forward to our next opponents in the next round,” said a delighted Starlets coach David Ouma.

Brace heroine Adam was equally excited with their performance.

“We came into this match in need of a win and we did it in  style despite missing the support of our fans. It was a collective performance,” said Adam.

Kenya started the match on a positive note, conjuring up a couple of shots in the opening quarter as the attacking duo of Adam and Elizabeth Wambui keeping their markers on their toes.

Wambui almost gave the Starlets a fifth-minute lead only for her powerful effort to hit the post after being put through by Cynthia Shilwatso.

Wiyeta Girls forward Jentrix Chikangwa then sky-rocketed her shot after a brilliant team-build up before Adam forced a fine save from Malawi goalkeeper Samir Amidu.

But after a series of threats, Kenya finally got the breakthrough in the 18th minute when Shilwatso latched on to aloose ball in the box before she unleashed a fierce drive past a stunned Amidu.

Wambui then earned a free-kick in a promising position but the keeper parried away the effort for fruitless corner.

Malawi came close to drawing level on the half hour mark but Wezzie Mvula’s long-range shot went agonisingly wide before Wambui spurned a sitter on the opposite end from Shilwatso’s flick.

Moments later, Temwa Chimwanga wasted a precious opportunity, heading wide Mvula’s delivery with goalkeeper Kundu cleaely beaten.

Kenya responded almost immediately, but Gaspo Corazone Aquino ballooned her long range effort before Vivian Nasaka made a fantastic challenge to stop marauding China-based striker Tabitha Chiwanga from scoring.

The Starlets appeared to have resorted to sitting back in the second half and they were nearly punished in the 50th minute had Temwa’s low drive not flown inches wide.

Malawians intensified their attack forcing another fine stop from the Kenyan keeper before Shilwatso’s shot crashed against the cross bar.

Kenya survived a scare in the 71st minute when Tabitha’s effort crashed the wood-work before the rebound bounced off the post.

Moments later, substitute Janet Moraa almost doubled the lead with a bizarre goal after her shot beat the goalkeeper only for it to hit the cross bar.

But Adam put the game beyond Malawi’s reach in the 77th minute when she received a through ball, dribbled past the defenders before slotting the ball past the advancing keeper.

 Malawi had a chance to pull a goal back eight minutes later, but Mvula was once again denied by the cross bar.

The impressive Adam then capitalised on the Malawians’ defensive blunder to grab her brace and seal an emphatic win for the Kenyans.

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