Copper Queens force draw away in Nairobi
From Moi International Sports Center in Kasarani, The Harambee Starlets of Kenya have been held to a 2-2 Draw by the Copper Queens of Zambia in a 4 Goal thriller in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Qualifier 1st Leg of the Fourth Round.
Copper Queens Coach Bruce Mwape maintained the core players who edged Botswana in the previous round making two changes resting Hellen Mubanga and Racheal Nachula whose places were taken up by the Kazakhstan based duo of Captain Misozi Zulu and Racheal Kundananji respectively.
The Match started on an even note with both sides trying to taste each other in the opening minutes with the likes of Anita Mulenga knocked down in the 7th minute but she quickly got back on her feet in making sure the Starlets are not given chance at the back.
A minute later the Harambee Starlets almost scored but the ball was well dealt with by Hazel Nali.
Chanda was brought down in the center circle but immediately recovered and a few minutes later she was again involved in a thick of things with her header going over the bar.
A minute later Barbara Banda with her individual brilliance took on some Starlets defenders and went passed them in the 18 Yard box before her close-range cross found Grace Chanda who calmly slotted home passed Annette Kundu to put the Copper Queens in the lead just after 12 minutes.
It was after that moment when the Coach David Ouma tutored side started piling some pressure to Zambia.
With only the Goalkeeper to beat Starlets forward, Mwanalima Adam was found in free space just on the edge of the box but her weak shot landed straight in Nali’s hands.
Left-back Wincart Kaari failed to utilize a set piece outside the D-zone as the home team was awarded a free-kick after Banda tripped Vivian Corazone on the edge of the box. Her resultant free-kick went slightly off target nothing much to worry Nali in goal.
The pressure counted and it did not take so long as there was an own goal from Green Buffaloes Defender Martha Tembo just after the half-hour mark as Starlets restored parity.
Barbara Banda was brought down on the edge of the box and Chanda stepped up to take the resultant free-kick but unfortunately, it went off target.
The home team had another chance to score from a set-piece but Elizabeth Wambui’s cross was well-read by Nali who was equal to the task before unleashing a long ball as Zambia was on counter-attack and Banda missed a great opportunity to score at the nick of half time and allowed Kenya to defend the ball for a Corner.
Both sides went on the break with a 1-1 scoreline.
Just after the break, Coach Mwape introduced Recheal Nachula resting Misozi Zulu as the Match started off from where it ended.
Starlets Goalkeeper Annette Kundu was cautioned with a yellow card after she handled the ball outside the box.
Banda stepped up to take up the free-kick but the delivery went over the bar.
Anita Mulenga was penalized with a yellow card after a late challenge on a speedy Mwanalima Adam.
Mwemba who had a decent second half saving two goals on different occasions clearing the ball off the line after it had hit the upright but there was no one to finish off the rebound for Kenya.
Vivian Odhiambo Corazone who had an excellent game in the midfield scored from a rebound after Nali spilled the ball to put the home team in the lead and sending the home crowd into wild celebrations.
The Lead did not last for long as Zambia’s Recheal Kundananji equalized a minute later benefited from Starlets’ miscommunication in the box as she leveled the match to 2-2.
Again Mweemba denied Starlets with a goal in the dying moments of the game with her header after Nali was beaten in the air and Copper Queens cleared their line.
Banda had an opportunity to kill off the match but missed an opportunity in additional time.
After all, was done and dusted Ugandan referee Shamirah Nabaddah who was on the point brought the game to an end as both sides shared spoils 2-2 and we wait for the return match next week in Lusaka.
With the return match coming up in 3 days’ time, both sides will have to do their homework and make sure that they utilize their chances to stand a chance of making it to the final round.
Zambia will host Kenya on Monday, 11th November 2019 at Lusaka’s Nkoloma Stadium in the return match to decide who progresses to the Final Round.
Meanwhile, the Football Association of Zambia(FAZ) has announced the gate charges for the Monday return match which will kick-off at 15:00hrs with the Grand Stand fetching at K50 while the Open is at K10. Tickets are available via Computicket in all Shoprite outlets countrywide.
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