Africa women championships
Rwanda 1-0 Kenya
Algeria 2-0 Morocco
Zambia 2-1 Tanzania
Botswana 0-1 Zimbabwe
Cote d’Ivoire 4-0 Mali
Striker Anne Maria Ibangarye battling past Kenyan defender with the ball on Saturday
THE national football women team edged closer to first round qualification after beating Kenya 1-0 in the 2014 African Women’s Championship (AWC) qualifier on Sunday at Stade de Kigali.
After a balanced opening minute, the hosts went up on 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 Kenya 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 was 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 freekick saved by She-Wasps impressive goalie Judith Ingabire as they dug deep for an equalizer 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 launched also 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 Gaboroone.
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.