Harambee Starlets stun Cameroon to make final round of 2024 WAFCON qualifiers

26th September 2023

Starlets beat Cameroon 4-3 on post match penalties after the game ended 1-1 on aggregate.

Harambee Starlets celebrate after beating Cameroon. PHOTO| FKF
Harambee Starlets celebrate after beating Cameroon. PHOTO| FKF
  • Cynthia Shilawatso scored the all-important goal that forced the game into post-match penalties after ending 1-1 on aggregate.
  • Kenya went on to win 4-3 in the shootouts.
  • Starlets will now face Botswana, who beat Gabon 10-1 on aggregate, in the final round of qualifiers.

Ranked number 147 in the world, the little-known women’s national football team from Kenya, the Harambee Starlets, caused a massive upset at the Nyayo National Stadium as they ended all of Cameroon’s hopes of qualifying for the 2024 Women's Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) on Tuesday evening.

This is after the Beldin Odemba coached side completed the turnaround against the third best ranked country in the continent and 46th in the world following their 4-3 win on post match penalties after the game had ended 1-1 on aggregate.

Trailing 1-0 after the first leg played in Douala last Friday, Starlets needed nothing short of a win to have any hopes of advancing to the second and final round of the WAFCON qualifiers.

And when the moment of reckoning arrived, it is super substitute Cynthia Shilawatso who gave the team a lifeline in the 75th minute with a stunning free kick that proved too hot to handle for the Cameroonian goalkeeper who fumbled the shot and reacted late after the ball had crossed the line.

The thunderbolt ended up being the only goal scored in the match forcing the game straight to the pressure penalty kicks.

Captain Ruth Ingosi, who had shone all through with her incredible composure and excellent reading of the game that denied the visitors any chances on goal, started the shootouts for Kenya on a sour note as her strike was well saved, leaving the visitors, who had converted their first attempt, with the advantage.

Kenyan goalkeeper Annedy Kundu however immediately helped Starlets back into the match as she saved Cameroon’s next penalty that was taken by Charlene Menene.

It is that moment that Kenya smelled blood and took advantage with Shilawatso, Violet Nanjala and Mwanahalima Adam finding the back of the net with their penalties.

With the pressure proving too much to handle, Cameroon's Claudine Falone crushed her penalty onto the bar, leaving Sheryl Angachi with the last kick that would see Kenya advance if successfully converted.

The Ulinzi Starlets midfielder calmly slotted into the back of the net as Kenya recorded the 4-3 win that knocked out the Cameroonians.

With the result, Kenya will now face Botswana in the second and final round of the 2024 WAFCON qualifiers.

Botswana beat Gabon 10-1 on aggregate to book the match against the Kenyans.

In the last qualifiers for the 2022 WAFCON, Starlets also managed to reach the second round following a resounding 15-1 aggregate victory over South Sudan in October 2021 and were supposed to meet Uganda’s Crested Cranes.

Unfortunately, due to the country’s FIFA suspension at the time, the team did not have the opportunity to face the neighbours, resulting in their exclusion from a possible spot in the 2022 WAFCON.