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Harambee Stars held by Flames

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NAIROBI, Kenya, June 2- Harambee Stars’ quest for a berth in 2014 World Cup began on a lacklustre note when they were held to a barren draw by Malawi Flames in their opening Group F qualifier at Moi International Centre, Kasarani on Saturday.
The result saw kenay fail to break their 18 year winless against a Malawi side that has owned them in recent meetings with back to back wins in the Cecafa Tusker Senior Challenge Cup tournament.
Stars began positively with unattached Kevin Kimani trading passes with Jamal Mohammed who fed Humphrey Mieno but he was unable to find Dennis Oliech with the final pass.
Kimani had a clear chance to get an opener in the 23rd minute but he headed a well delivered cross from Situma over the bar.
The visitors grew in confidence with Joseph Kamwendo missing a chance to convert from close range from the far post in the 26th minute before they made an early substitution as John Banda was introduced for injured Robin Ngalande.
The youthful Flames kept making inroads creating several chances with Stars custodian Boniface Oluoch forced to make a double save in the 37th minute.
Kimanzi made the first change as Titus Mulama came in for Jamal in the 55th minute to loud cheers from the crowd in a move meant to rejuvenate the midfield with the visitors bringing on Frank Banda for Atusaye Nyondo who had picked an injury on Thursday during training.
Kenya continued their search for an opener with Oliech shooting wide in the 57th minute as Mulama also saw an attempt flash wide of the far post on the hour mark.
In the 66th minute, Kepha Aswani who has been impressive in the domestic league made his national team debut coming on for Patrick Oboya who had been a peripheral figure all afternoon.
Clifford Miheso called in to fill the void of injured Denis Odhiambo had his opportunity in the 71st minute after Mieno had been fouled but his swinging free kick sailed over the bar with Malawi swiftly winning a free kick in the other end after a Victor Wanyama error but once again Oluoch came to the rescue.
Olouch saved Stars bacon eight minutes from time with a fantastic save to keep out Russell Mwafulira’s header off a Moses Chavula cross.
Oliech then wasted his best chance of the match when he failed to connect a with chipped pass by Kimani six minutes from time.
A well taken corner by Kimani a minute later went begging after Brian Mandela failed to connect.
“It was a tough team with a well organized play but I’m happy with the point we have collected. It’s always tough to play at home when you are playing against a technical side, but we still have an opportunity to get the game back in Windhoek” said Kimanzi after the match.
“We played far much better and had more control of the game. Am very happy with the performance of my young squad and look forward to our clash against Nigeria,” a confident Kinnah Phiri affirmed at the touch line.
Kenya travel to Windhoek to face Namibia on June 9 while Malawi hosts the Super Eagles.

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