Harambee Stars recorded a second successive victory on the international front thanks to Francis Kahata’s late goal that condemned Malawi Flames at Kasarani Stadium yesterday.
Kahata capitalised on a Malawi defence mesmerised by great intensity of pressing, unable to clear Eric Ouma’s scorching, to sweep the ball into the net for the sole goal of the game.
Before the goal, Kenya had found it difficult to break down an organised Malawi side until Ouma was introduced. His pace on the flanks coupled with lanky forward Piston Mutamba’s height in the box caused problems for the visitors.
An excellent pass from another substitute Anthony Akumu set Ouma hurtling down the left. He let fly a ferocious cross which Malawi goalkeeper Brian Munthali could only palm as far as the lurking Kahata. The Gor Mahia midfielder then scored easily from close range.
Sébastian Migne started the same team that beat Ghana on Saturday with the exception of Michael Olunga who is injured. The team, however, failed to exercise the anticipated dominance over a Malawi squad that was on the wrong side of a 3-0 thrashing by Morocco at the weekend. Early exchanges had the visitors creating the best chances. Kenyan goalkeeper Patrick Matasi save from Gabadhino Mhango after Malawi curved out the best chances of the game in the 27th minute.
Mhango shuffled through the Kenyan defence to meet a long cross from John Banda. Matasi was, however, up to task and reacted swiftly to gather the dipping header.
Kenya hardly created a clear chance in the opening half, most of their forays stopped way off the Malawi danger areas as Jesse Were, starting in place of Olunga, struggled to make an impact.
Ovella Ochieng drew the crowd’s wrath when he opted to dribble and shoot rather than tee up Were who had a clear path to goal. His shot was off target and wasted Kenya’s best chance to break the deadlock.
A flurry of changes in the second half brought urgency to Kenya’s game as the fresh blood sought to make an impression.
Migne was pleased with his team’s performance but left the door open for any player to walk in for the next round of games against Ethiopia.
“I don’t have a preferred 11 so any players can come in if they impress in the one month before we play again. I did not feel the intensity of our game today and understandably because after beating Ghana the players relax,” the Frenchman said.