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Malawi Flames raze Stars in CECAFA opener

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NAIROBI, Kenya, November 28- Harambee Stars came crashing down to earth when they were scorched 2-0 by Malawi Flames in their CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup in Dar-es-Salaam on Monday.

Right back Pililani Makupe and captain Joseph Kamwendo scored wither side of the break to sink the Stars who slumped to the bottom of Pool C after Ethiopia held Sudan in the other group game earlier.

“It’s a tournament; you can start on a high note or poorly. I don’t believe we played so poorly but we made mistakes and in a tournament, you can be punished but I still believe we have a chance and we look forward to the next match, this one is over,” Stars head coach, Francis Kimanzi said after the defeat.

His opposite number, Kinnah Phiri was elated for beating Stars for the second CECAFA tourney in a row.

“I praise the young boys for putting up a fight. This is a young team and to have players whom we assembled in seven days come here and play like this is wonderful. We could have scored three or more but Kenya gave us a good game,” Phiri offered.

Kimanzi’s side got off to a bright start, bossing possession but were caught cold in the 24th minute when Makupe half-volleyed the ball to the net following a cross from the right with Stars backline all at sea.

The goal ignited the Flames as Stars midfield quintet of Jamal Mohammed, Titus Mulama, Paul Were, Kevin Kimani and Collins Okoth lost their foothold on the game as starving the lone marksman Bob Mugalia of service upfront.

The lively John Banda on the other hand was making a nuisance of himself on the other end with Stars custodian, Duncan Ochieng the busier of the two keepers as the teams went to the breather with Malawi a goal to the good.

Kimanzi hauled off the ineffectual Were and introduced Kenyan Premier League (KPL) top scorer, Stephen Waruru as he sought the spark in attack.

But before the five-time CECAFA champions could settle into some rhythm Phiri’s Flames conjured up the first menacing attack that saw Banda sting the arms of Ochieng who did well to tip his fierce drive to the cross bar.

Just past the hour mark, Malawi worked the ball to the left and a cross into the box saw Ochieng come out to claim it but dropped it before he held back Loti Chawinga and the referee pointed to the spot.

Captain Kamwendo made the keeper pay for his rush of blood when he emphatically sent him the wrong way to dispatch the penalty high to the left.

Bob Mugalia almost pulled one back when his shot from range in the 68th minute forced Charles Swini to the save before the winners almost when three clear when a well worked move saw Loti miss the target from three yards.

Kimanzi brought on Humphrey Mieno for Collins Okoth and Yusuf Juma for Dennis Odhiambo for a last flourish but Malawi saw out the game for victory.

Earlier Group C rivals Sudan and Ethiopia settled for a 1-1 draw in Mohammed Tarib opened the scoring early in the first half before Getaneb Kebede leveled for Ethiopia in 32nd minute.

The result left Kimanzi’s side who face Ethiopia next bottom of the group.

STARS: Duncan Ochieng, Brian Mandela ,James Situma, Pascal Ochieng Dennis Odhiambo, Collins Okoth, Titus Mulama , Jamal Mohammed, Kevin Kimani, Paul Were, Bob Mugalia..

SUBSTITUTES: Jacktone Odhiambo, Joackins Atudo, Mulinge Ndeto,Humphrey Mieno, Stephen Waruru, Stephen Ocholla, Erick Masika,Victor Ochieng, Yusuf Juma.

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