Rising Starlets’ World Cup dream ends with loss to Cameroon
Kenya’s hopes of qualifying for the 2024 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup were dashed on Friday as the Under-20 Rising Starlets fell to a 3-2 defeat against Cameroon at Nyayo Stadium in the return leg of their third-round qualifier.
The Rising Starlets had already been dealt a blow in the first leg, losing 3-0 in Yaounde. This meant that they needed to win by at least three goals in the return leg to force a penalty shootout or by at least four goals to win the tie outright.
Unfortunately, the task proved too much for the Rising Starlets. They conceded an early goal in the 24th minute through Naomi Leslie, who extended Cameroon’s aggregate lead to 4-0.
The Rising Starlets went into halftime trailing 1-0, and Coach Beldine Odemba made a strategic change by substituting Judith Nandwa for Charity Midewa.
Midewa had an immediate impact on the game, equalizing for Kenya just a minute after coming on.
However, Cameroon quickly restored their lead through a penalty from Leslie in the 60th minute. Leslie then added another goal a minute later to make it 3-1.
The Rising Starlets refused to give up and Midewa pulled a goal back with a header in the 78th minute to make it 3-2.
Despite their late efforts, the Rising Starlets were unable to find another goal, and Cameroon secured a 6-2 aggregate victory.
Cameroon will now advance to face the winner of the Congo-Egypt match in the fourth round of qualifying.
Key moments in the match:
- 24th minute: Cameroon takes the lead through Naomi Leslie
- 45th minute: Halftime
- 46th minute: Judith Nandwa comes on for Charity Midewa
- 47th minute: Midewa equalizes for Kenya
- 60th minute: Cameroon are awarded a penalty and Leslie scores
- 61st minute: Leslie scores again to make it 3-1
- 78th minute: Midewa scores with a header to make it 3-2
Key takeaways from the match:
- The Rising Starlets put up a valiant effort, but they were ultimately outmatched by Cameroon.
- Cameroon will be a tough opponent for whoever they face in the next round.
- The Rising Starlets will have to learn from their mistakes and come back stronger in the next qualifying cycle.