The Ethiopian U-20 women national threw away a two goals cushion as visitors Kenya came from behind to force a vital 2-2 draw in Hawassa International Stadium on FIFA U-20 Women World Cup qualifier, on Sunday noon. A solid performance from the homers saw them ahead in the first interval but two late strikes from neighbor’s Kenya put both sides on level terms before the return leg in Machakos.
Ethiopia dominated the early exchanges as the Kenyans were superior in ariel duel. Martha Amunyolete’s goal bound strike was deflected out Aregashe Tsegaye 8 minutes after the onset. Mirekat Feleke’s header in the 19th minute sailed wide of the post as Ethiopia grew dangerous upfront. Ethiopia took the lead three minutes later as Mirekat rounded Kenyan goalie Liillian Awuor to slot home from close range after she collected a long ball from Bethlehem Kefyalew. As confidence surges, Ethiopia doubled their lead in the 27th minute when Alemneshe Geremew wonderfully struck from 25 meters out to hand Ethiopia a two goals cushion. Alemnesh beat two of her markers before unleashing a superb shot that Awuor couldn’t keep the ball out. The visitors took the initiation for an offensive play through a swift counter attacks following the half hour mark.
The second stanza saw a much changed Kenyan side whilst Ethiopia couldn’t hold on to their lead from the first half. Awuor was once again called to action in the 55th minute when she denied Alemneshe whose powerful shot from the middle of the park almost made the score line 3-0. Senaf Wakuma and Mirekat had also scoring opportunities they squandered. The Kenyans kept on piling the pressure and were successful eventually as they struck twice in a space of four minutes. Corazone Aquino pulled one back from the spot a minute before full time after she was brought down by Kidist Zeleke. The homers yet again could not hold on their halved lead as second half substitute Rachel Muema fired past Ethiopian custodian Tigest Abera in the stoppage time as she puts Kenya on level matters.
The return leg of the two nations is slated for next weekend in Machakos. Kenya have the advatange over their rivals Ethiopia before heading to the second leg. Ethiopia needs at least to win the tie or score more than two goals in order for them to progress. In the last edition of the World Cup qualifier, Ethiopia managed to reach the last qualifying round as they lost 6-2 on aggregate to Ghana.
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