Poor Harambee Starlets knocked out of Women's Africa Cup of Nations

Harambee Starlets' Enez Mango (left) and Tholakele Tebogo of Mares, Botswana in their 1st match of the final round of the WAFCON qualifier match against Mares of Botswana at the Nyayo National Stadium. Nov 29, 2023. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Once again Kenya’s Harambee Starlets missed a penalty as they were bundled out of the 2024 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) qualifiers.

Starlets' dreams of returning to the continental showpiece were shattered after losing 1-0 to Botswana yesterday as the ‘Mares’ qualified on a 2-1 aggregate score in the final round of the qualifiers played at the Gaborone National Stadium in Botswana.

The Beldine Odemba-coached charges needed a win away to ensure a return to the continental competition for the first time since their debut in 2016.

But the same fate befell Starlets again after Cynthia Shilwatso failed to score from the spot eight minutes into the second half.

Last week in the first leg at Nyayo Stadium, Violet Nanjala squandered a precious opportunity that would have given them an advantage ahead of the second leg in Gaborone as she missed her penalty. The match ended in a 1-1 draw.

But on Tuesday, in the 64th minute, Keitumetse Dithebe capitalised on an error by the Kenyan defense to score what turned out to be the winner for Botswana to secure them a qualification ticket to the continental games set for Morocco for the second time.

Dithebe who also scored during Botswana’s 1-1 draw in Nairobi joined her captain, goalkeeper Sedilame Bosija who saved Violet Nanjala’s penalty away and Shilwatso’s kick at home in celebration.

Other teams that have already qualified for the tournament include South Africa, Ghana and Algeria.

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