Harambee Stars and Malawi Flames battle to draw

Harambee blames league conflicts as Malawi ramps up for qualifiers

The Harambee Stars of Kenya and the Flames of Malawi fought to a draw in a key international friendly played on Tuesday. The home crowd at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos, Kenya was sizable and included the president of the Confederation of African Football, Mr. Ahmad Ahmad. His appearance in Kenya sparked discussion over whether the 2018 African Nations Championship will actually take place in Kenya, and he gave his assurance that this is still the case as long as the Kenyan government cooperates in the organization efforts. However, Ahmad said that he was not in Kenya on official business, but rather a stopover from an official visit to Somalia that finalized on Monday.

Harambee dominated the time of possession battle in the first half, but it seems that the team was fatigued overall, perhaps because of many players participating in SportPesa Premier League matches over the weekend. Because of their obligations elsewhere, Harambee was also forced to use substitutes at various positions. For example, Patrick Matasi started at goalkeeper because normal starter Boniface Olouch failed to receive permission from his Premier club to participate. Also, Cavin Odongo had to start in place of forward Masita Masuta, who was unable to process his passport in time for the match. Stars manager Stanley Okumbi said that the two leagues “need to come together and support each other. In such a situation, some of the league games could have been shelved for instance to allow national team players a chance to put in their best foot.”

As for Malawi’s side, Simon Singa had a clear shot in the seventh minute, but just missed wide. Samuel Onyango also made a shot on goal in minute 56 that just brushed the goalpost. The Flames were also held scoreless, and they had to leave immediately after the game to prepare for a match against Madagascar this weekend in the first qualifiers for the 2018 African Nations Championship.


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