THE national football women team, ‘She-Wasps’ snatched a 1-0 win over Kenya in their 2014 African Women’s Championship (AWC) qualifier yesterday at Stade de Kigali to boost their chances.
Grace Nyinawumuntu’s charges who were returning to continental football after five years never disappointed as they dominated their Kenyan counterparts at all fronts.
The hosts took a lead in the 29th minute through striker Alice Niyoyita who smashed a perfect header off Marie Jeanne Nyirahafashimana’s corner.
The score line would have been extended but heroic saves from Kenyan goal keeper Rosemary Aluooh denied Rwanda a chance of registering a hefty score.
Sophie Niyomugaba tormented Kenyan defence twice from the left with her crosses to Anne Marie Ibangarye which were never put to good use.
Clementine Mukamana exhibited good defensive tactics as she twice halted Kenya’s Wendy Atieno. Skipper Martha Karimi had the best chance from a free kick saved by She-Wasps impressive goalie Judith Ingabire as they dug deep for an equaliser in the second half.
Striker Chadia Uwamahirwe missed two clear chances in front of the goal. In the 80th minute, she dribbled past Sylvia Nasike and Doris Anyango only for her shot to be denied by the woodwork.
The AS Kigali striker had her brilliant free kick outside the box put off bay by goalie Aluooh as Rwanda relied on counterparts after Kenya packed the midfield in search for a goal.
Rwanda head to Kenya in a fortnight for a return leg scheduled to be played at Nyayo national stadium in Nairobi.
Meanwhile, Cote d’Ivoire booked a 4-0 first leg win over neighbors Mali in Abidjan on Saturday while southerners Zambia and Zimbabwe also launched their campaigns with narrow wins on Friday.
Jeanne Gnago opened the scores for the Les Elephants after four minutes from the spot before Estelle Nahi cemented the lead on 41 minutes. The Ivorians scored the third through Ines Tia Nrehi on 81 minutes before Rebecca Elloh signed off the win four minutes later with the fourth goal.
The She-polopolo of Zambia beat Tanzania 2-1 in Lusaka whilst the Mighty Warriors of Zimbabwe stunned their Botswana hosts 1-0 in Gaborone.
In Algiers, Algeria silenced Morocco 2-0 in an-all Maghrebian affair. Striker Naima Bouhani-Benziane scored in each half, 12 and 56 minutes to power the Algerians to a comfortable win.
The second leg matches will take place on the weekend of February 28 to March 2 March with the winners progressing to the second round to join African champions, Equatorial Guinea, South Africa and Cameroon, who drew a bye at the first round.
Seven teams will emerge from the qualifiers to join hosts Namibia for the final tournament from 11-24 October, also a qualifier for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada next year.