Harambee Stars fail to put out Flames

Jun 02, 2012
  • Malawi's Russel Mwafulirwa fights for the ball with Kenya's Cliff Miheso.(Photo:Shutterspeed)

Francis Kimanzi's secretive preparations seems to have backfired as Harambee Stars got off to a stuttering start in their 2014 World Cup campaign barely mustering a barren draw with Malawi,Saturday at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

While the Kenyan team’s preparations have been shrouded in mystery, on the field of play the team put a lethargic performance made nonsense of their clandestine preparations. Kenya started the match the stronger of the two and created the early chances in the first half.

Kenya sounded the first warning in the third minute with James Situma’s attempt from the right flank being deflected for the first corner of the match.

Victor Mugubi and with left winger Patrick Oboya quickly established good chemistry that subjected the visitors to many anxious moments.

In the tenth minute, Kevin Kimani linked up with Dennis Oliech but the latter’s goal-bound shot was blocked.

The Malawians took time settle into the game while seizing up their opponents in the opening fifteen minutes.

Soon, Mkanda Zicco delivered a rocket of a shot that sailed over the crossbar. With the Flames confidence levels gradually surging, Kenya found themselves on the backfoot time and again and they were almost caught out in the 25th minute when Mwafulirwa Russell fluffed a one-on-one chance against Boniface Oluoch in the Kenyan goal.

On the other end of the pitch, Oboya delivered a great cross from the left flank but just as Jamal Mohammed was blocked just when he was about to pull the trigger from the edge of the box.

Though Kenya kept asking most of the questions in the opening 30 minutes their main undoing was lack of creativity in midfield and a goal shy forward line.

Boniface Oluoch, whose immense contribution earned him a man of the match award, was called out to make the first of his brilliant saves in the 37th minute as the Malawians threatened to exploit Stars’ profligate defence.

However, Kenya ended the first period stronger of the two sides with Oliech whipping in a shot across the face of goal after one-two with Kimani.

The Flames came out blazing in the second half as Stars run out of steam barely surviving an imminent defeat by the skin of their teeth.

Kimanzi pulled out the ineffective Jamal Mohamed and brought in veteran midfielder Titus Mulama while the injured Humphrey Mieno made way for Kepha Aswani.

Mulama and fellow substitute Paul Were, who came in for Patrick Oboya, showed flashes of brilliance, but they too found it hard to unlock the Malawians robust formation.

With the Stars pushing forward for a goal, the Flames nearly caught them off guard with Boniface Oluoch scrambling to keep out Frank Banda’s goal-bound header.

In the end, Stars failed to neither put out the Flames nor light up the stadium as thousands of fans had expected.

"It was a difficult game against a tough team and organised play,"conceded Kimanzi.

"It is always tough to play at home when you are playing against a technical side.They made the game very difficult for us. But we still have an opportunity to get the game back when we play in Namibia next weekend."

Kinnah Phiri was however impressed with his young team lacking several top players through injury.

"I am very happy with our boys they played far much better than Stars. They created more chances too. 0-0 is a good result for us. We look forward to a better game next week at home against Nigeria when I should have some of my players back,"said a beaming Phiri.

Line ups – Kenya: Boniface Oluoch, James Situma, Cliffton Miheso, Joackins Atudo, Brian Mandela, Victor Mugubi, Kevin Kimani, Jamal Mohamed (Titus Mulama), Humphrey Mieno (Kepha Aswani), Dennis Oliech, Patrick Oboya (Paul Were) Malawi : Nthala Simplex, Sangal James, Mzara Limbikani, Namwera Foster, Moses Charula Bande Davie, Kanyira Chimnago, Joseph Kamwenda, Nglande Rosin, Nyundo Atusaye (Frank Banda) Mwafulirwa Russell.


Nesta Kizito

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