MACHAKOS, Kenya, Apr 18- Stanley Okumbi’s new Harambee Stars boys failed to shine as the national football team to represent Kenya in next year’s African Nations Championship (CHAN) was held to a goalless draw by Malawi in a friendly match at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on Tuesday, watched by new CAF president Ahmad Ahmad.
It wasn’t the best of matches for Harambee Stars as Okumbi picked his sixth draw in 13 matches in charge of the team.
In his starting team, the coach paraded four uncapped players with Kariobangi Sharks left back Bolton Omwenga getting the nod to start as well as Bandari’s Darius Msagha who started on the offensive right, AFC Leopards’ Duncan Otieno who paired Victor Majid in midfield and Western Stima’s Kennedy Otieno up in attack.
It was the home side who had the better chances in the opening 45 minutes with Samuel Onyango and Otieno having the most open.
In the 10th minute, Onyango who impressed in his first two games for Stars against Uganda and DR Congo had a chance with a shot from the edge of the box which went over. Two minutes later, Malawi had their first opportunity when Kevin Hanganda’s diving header from a Simeon Singa cross going wide.
Onyango had the best chance of the game in the 18th minute when he broke the offside trap to race to a Majid well weighted cross, but his header under no pressure went wide as he held his head in dismay.
Cavin Odongo was presented with another chance in the 23rd minute when he intercepted Luck Magata’s pass back to his keeper, but his effort at goal was a lazy and wild one, going wide.
Malawi had two chances back-to-back on the half hour mark, first Singa’s effort from a freekick on the left going inches over Patrick Matasi’s goal before Gilbert Chirwa’s effort from close range went wide after picking the ball from Robinson Kamura’s defensive header which flicked his way.
Kennedy Otieno had an even closer chance in the 38th minute, but just like Onyango early on, he failed to head on target unmarked inside the box. Immediately, Okumbi made his first change of the afternoon, bringing off Msagha who had struggled to impress and brought in Daniel Mwaura.
In the second half within the opening minute, Mwaura’s effort with a header from an Onyango cross went wide as the hosts started faster and stronger.
In the 55th minute on the counter, Malawi’s Singa had a stinging shot saved by Matasi while on the other end, Onyango had a shot go marginally wide after being picked up by a pin point Kennedy Otieno cross.
Okumbi gave more opportunities to new players with Amos Asembeka, Chris Onyango, Brian Birgen and Palos FC forward Morven Otinya all being given chances to impress. However, none of them did.
Malawi will have lots of positives to pick from the game which was head coach Ronny Van Geneugden’s first game in charge. The Flames now travel to Antananarivo, Madagascar where they will face their hosts in the first round of the CHAN qualifiers.