Kenya’s Vihiga Queens made history on Thursday evening when they became the first East African team to qualify for the inaugural CAF Women’s Champions League.
Top scorer Jentrix Shikangwa was the hero when she sunk a brace to inspire the hosts to a 2-1 victory over Ethiopia’s CBE FC during the regional CECAFA qualifiers final played in Nairobi.
FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura was among the officials who attended the final that was played behind closed doors due to COVID-19 regulations.
Shikangwa, who came to the final with six goals, opened the scoring for the former Kenyan Women Premier League champions in the 27th minute when a cross from the right by Violet Wanyonyi was poorly dealt with to allow the striker to turn in the loose ball.
CBE, who hammered Vihiga 4-2 in the preliminary round, pressed hard for an equalizer but the Kenyans held on to take a 1-0 lead to halftime.
The Ethiopians were rewarded for a strong start in the second half when they forced in an equalizer in the 57th minute with the unfortunate Vivian Nasaka turning in the ball into her own net after a terrible mix-up with her keeper from a free-kick.
However, Vihiga wrestled control of the game and came close twice to finding the winner in the dying embers of normal time but Shikangwa and Wanyonyi both hit the post.
The game seemed destined for extra time but with a minute of added time remaining, Wanyonyi was fouled in the box by Tarikwa Yakura to earn Vihiga a penalty.
Shikangwa stepped up to complete her brace when she tucked the spot-kick home as the Kenyans exacted revenge on the Ethiopians.
“Women’s football is important because women are 51 percent of the world’s community. Women are also behind the family members who are playing football and they are also very passionate in Africa about the game,” Samoura told reporters.
“This is the first edition of the CAF Women’s Champions League and having CECAFA and also other regions of CAF organizing this, it means we are taking the growth of women’s football to the next level,” Samoura added.
Her first visit to Kenya coincided with Vihiga winning a ticket to the CAF Women’s Champions League which will feature eight teams set for Egypt in November.