Harambee Starlets tested their preparedness for the forthcoming Africa Women’s Cup of Nations with a one-all draw against Ghana in an international friendly at the Moi Stadium, Kasarani.
Starlets, who have been in camp since last week, were gearing up towards their second appearance to the continental finals set for Ghana between November 17 and December 1.
The home girls playing in an almost empty stadium were lucky not to concede a goal in the opening minutes of the game as their opponents capitalised on their shaky start to make inroads into their box, but their final shots failed to sail past the line.
Skipper Wendy Acheing and Dorcas Sikobe, who partnered at the heart of the defence worked overtime to stop Elizabeth Addo, who caused all sorts of problems in the area with her superb dribbles from the flank, forcing head coach David Ouma to instruct Lilian Adera to man mark her.
After struggling to settle in the opening minutes, the Starlets gained confidence and momentum and had their first sniff at goal in the seventh minute through Terry Engesha, who fired wide from Corazone Aquino’s pass.
Their surge seemed to neutralise the Ghanaians, hence went on to break the deadlock in the 14th minute when Thika Queens ace Mwanahalima Adam weaved past two opponents on the right flank to float a cross, which her teammate Mercy Achieng tapped in past Patriciah Mantey to hand Kenya the lead.
Ghana nearly equalised three minutes later after Addo’s defence splitting pass found an unmarked Portia Boaleye in the box but her shot was scattered by Annette Kundu who stretched to block it before Elizabeth Ambogo cleared the danger.
Three minutes later Addo watched her free header sway off target after Priscilla Olgere found her with a well floated cross.
Despite the pressure from Ghana, Starlets managed a number of unsuccessful counter-attacks until the two teams took a two minute water break with 30 minutes played.
Upon resumption, the diminutive Mary Kinuthia almost doubled the scores for Kenya but her delay in converting the cross saw her marker Janet Egyir cut her off.
Starlets carried the lead to the breather as their opponents who were billed as pre-match favourites walked off the pitch heads low and guilty of flapping clear cut chances.
Six minutes after the break, the match had to be adjourned for two minutes after Starlets shot stopper Kundu incurred a shoulder injury while trying to clear an aerial challenge.
However the medics gave her the green light to continue and in the 65th minute, Ouma made his first substitution, bringing in Neddy Atieno for the goal scorer Achieng.
Adam was three minutes later withdrawn for Sheryl Angachi while Aquino paved way for Cheri’s Avilia.
Ghana on the other hand brought in Grace Asamilewaa for Sherifatu Suleman and the latter equalised for the visitors in the 73rd minute after curling the ball inches off the box past a hapless Kundu. The goal appeared to polarize Starlets rear as Ghana stepped up their quest to double the scores but were met with an equal reaction till the final whistle.