Kylie van Wyk’s 60th minute equaliser against Botswana was enough to propel the Namibian Under-17 girls’ football team through to the first round of the 2016 FIFA Women Under-17 World Cup qualifiers at the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Windhoek on Friday, where hosts Namibia won 3-2 on aggregate.
Namibia led 2-1 from the first leg match in Gaborone a fortnight ago, but the visitors had other ideas in the decisive return leg.
Despite the heavy rain that fell at the stadium hours before the clash, the hosts started off well, coming close with inspirational skipper, Sharon Pieters, just missing the target with a powerful header from a corner kick, while the evergreen and speedy Beverly Uueziua also had a fair share of goal-scoring chances in front of goal.
Botswana managed to regroup and got their goal on 25 minutes after Radiakanyo Lesego ran onto a cleverly worked through ball behind the defense. She confidently looped the ball over the hapless advancing Batista Kasume in Namibia’s goal (0-1).
The hosts recovered from their slight lack of concentration and continued to create chances for themselves. The goal eventually arrived in the 60th minute, as Ignacia Haoses threaded a long through ball from deep in Namibia’s half onto the path of the unmarked Uueziua, who raced through on goal before she unselfishly teed up Kylie van Wyk for the simplest of tap-ins.
Botswana’s substitute Theo Keselebong nearly made it 2-2 on aggregate, as she headed over from less than three metres out, following a teasing cross from down the left flank. Uueziua was once again in the thick of things, linking up well with Van Wyk who found Haoses, but the latter’s well taken shot hit the upright before it was cleared by the Botswana defense.
The hardworking Uueziua had two clear-cut chances to put the result to bed, but fluffed both attempts, but with three minutes left on the clock the Namibian number 12 showed amazing ball control, turning defenders inside out before unleashing a shot that mysteriously struck the roof of the net as the crossbar came to Botswana’s rescue.
Namibia will now confront Nigeria in the next round qualifiers for Jordan 2016 FIFA Women’s Under-17 World Cup, between December 8 and 10, with the return leg slated for Windhoek on the weekend of January 22 to 24.