Kenya has become the first team to be eliminated in the 2016 African Women Cup of Nations after a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Mali, their second of the tournament after losing to Ghana in a replica score-line.
The Malians resurrected from their opening day 6-0 humiliation at the hands of Nigeria to revive their chances of progressing to the semi-finals. Victory for Mali against Ghana in the final Group B match on Saturday in Yaounde will assure them of a slot in the last four.
Bassira Toure scored a second half brace after Sebe Coulibaly’s well taken free-kick had given the Malians a first half lead. Cheris Avilia scored the consolation for Kenya towards the end, but it was too little too late.
Kenya who showed quite a good performance against Ghana despite losing were a pale shadow of themselves. Mali on the other hand were a hugely improved side and came into the match with a lot of confidence.
Within the first 40 seconds, the West Africans had already shown intent with Binta Diarra’s shot from the left going wide after breaking into the box. Kenya who were unsettled and didn’t pass the ball well had a sixth minute chance but Mary Kinuthia’s left footed shot after twisting and turning away from her markers came off the outside of the bar.
Mali continued with their bright start and Carolyne Anyango was forced to clear the ball off the line for the Kenyans in the 24th minute after Toure headed goal-ward a cross from Coulouba Sogore. On the opposite end, Mali also cleared an effort off the line with Mercy Achieng’s header being cleared away with the keeper beaten.
Mali’s pressure paid off in the 37th minute when Coulibaly lifted the ball over the line and into the bottom right with Kenyan keeper Samantha Akinyi being caught flat footed.
Five minutes into the second half, Mali made it 2-0 with Toure scoring the first of her two with a delightful finish after taking an excellent first touch to move off her markers from an Aichata Doumbia pass before slotting past Akinyi.
The goal came just after Kenya head coach David Ouma had made three changes at a go, bringing Jacky Ogol, Lydia Akoth and Janet Bundi for Carolyne Anyango, Mercy Achieng and Corazone Aquino respectively.
Despite going two down, Kenya pressed to fight and get back level and they should have done so three minutes after conceding the second but Esse Akida could not bang a rebound home after the Malian keeper Goundou Samake spilled Kinuthia’s shot.
Wendy Achieng also had an effort in the 58th minute with a freekick from the right which was pushed behind for a corner by Samake. From the resultant corner, the Mali keeper pulled a double save to deny headers from Bundi and Elizabeth Mwikali.
Two minutes on the turn, Starlets found themselves 3-0 down after Achieng cynically brought down Toure inside the box. The striker took matters into her own hands and scored, though the Kenyan shot stopper had a touch to the ball.
Avillia grabbed a consolation from Kenya after chipping the ball over the keeper from inside the box.
Mali will play the Super Falcons of Nigeria in their final group match on Saturday with the West Africans needing a healthy win to confirm their status as group winners.