Harambee Stars settled for a sixth draw in their last 11 international friendly matches as a team composed of locally-based based only were held to a barren stalemate by an enterprising Malawi Tuesday afternoon.
Malawi had much of the ball but Kenya created the best chances with Samuel Onyango twice coming close while Cavin Odongo should have done better with a gift in the first half. Of the 22 players who made the matchday squad, Harambee Stars boss Stanley Okumbi utilized 17 with 5 departing for home without touching the ball.
Here is how we rated the 11 starters and the 5 substitutes.
Patrick Matasi - 7
The Posta Rangers man is strongly pushing to make the No. 1 spot, currently occupied by Gor Mahia's Boniface Oluoch, his own. This was a match where he showed that he is getting closer. Wasn't tested much but dealt with everything that came his way with relative ease, be it a dangerous aerial ball or a palm-stinging shot from outside his area. Was also vocal enough to keep his defence awake.
Bolton Omwenga - 6
The Kariobangi Sharks man made his national team debut with a role as a left back. Looked solid enough but gave the ball away a couple of times after the interval. Didn't bomb forward like Simon Mbugua in the opposite flank meaning that his flank wasn't as threatening, but safe.
Jockins Atudo - 6
The captain was just himself here. His modus operandi is always no-nonsense, it doesn't matter whether the opposition is Kalongolongo FC or the Brazilian national team. A lot of stuff that came his way were aerial balls which he dealt with perfectly and wasn't caught out on the ground either. With Robinson Kamura doing the pretty things, Atudo had to be the beast here. And he was.
Robinson Kamura - 6.5
Tell me a center half who carries the ball from the back as effectively as the AFC Leopards man. A polished performance as you would expect of a man who wore boots specifically designed for a wet surface that the Machakos Stadium was. Cool-headed and never put a foot wrong.
Simon Mbugua - 5.5
Kenya attacked Malawi a lot through the right flank during the opening half and it was right-back Mbugua who was the outlet, Kamura the man threading it down the wing. Of course it meant that his flank-mate Samuel Onyango had to cover the space left. A couple of successful take-ons and crosses would have made his work more worthwhile. Limped off with an injury after the break.
Duncan Otieno - 6.5
Coach Okumbi set up a two-man defensive midfield made up of Otieno and Victor Majid. After a slow start where Malawi ran rings in midfield, the duo dropped flair for grit and operated like a well-oiled clockwork. Otieno was efficient with the ball, barely gave it away and had energy in his reserve tank to keep doing it after the interval.
Victor Majid - 7
The Chemelil Sugar man was energetic, never pulled away from a tackle and did the dirty work in midfield, almost literally if the dirt on his clothes was anything to go by. He was more visible after the break as he covered every blade of grass to try break down the silky passing Malawi. Was unfortunate to pick an injury that saw him depart the action.
Darius Msagha - 4
The former Mwatate FC man, now at Bandari, was largely anonymous during the 35 minutes he was on the pitch. As aforementioned, Stars preferred to attack using the Mbugua-Onyango wing meaning little service was on the left channel. His premature substitution, apparently from an injury, contributes to his low marks.
Samuel Onyango - 7
Worked his socks off the Ulinzi Stars man who is increasingly becoming a cog in the national team set up. He popped everywhere, at fullback, wide and dropped in midfield to collect the ball. Had two chances to nick a goal, one flying just above the bar, the other missing the target by the breadth of a hint of his hair. Oh, and the soldier in him stood at attention during the national anthem - a great sight, trust me.
Kennedy Otieno - 6
A few people were surprised that he started, yours truly included. Not that the Western Stima man is a bad player but it was just surprising. What wasn't surprising though is that he fitted in. His raw power meant he didn't get disposesed easily and always wanted the ball. Encouraging. Another one who got substituted due to injury.
Cavin Odongo - 5.5
Wasted the best chance of the match when a back pass gone wrong landed straight at his feet. He seemed surprised by it but that's not a viable excuse for the way he dealt with the situation, sending the ball over with only one man and the keeper to beat, something he's so capable of. Talent is there but looked rusty throughout and lost possesion easily after the interval till his substitution. Perhaps another match barely 24 hours after helping Kariobangi Sharks beat Nakumatt was too much to ask.
Daniel Mwaura - 4.5
The Mathare United vice captain must have thanked his lucky stars when he was summoned to replace the injured Msagha during the opening half. It was a direct substitution as he occupied the left flank for the rest of the match. He did a lot of running but barely got past his marker.
Brian Birgen - 4.5
Another substitution which was induced by injury. Didn't get too many chances to make his customary forward forays.
Amos Asembeka - 4.5
Replaced the tiring Cavin Odongo. Had flashes of good play on is debut match.
Morven Otinya - 4
The highly-rated FC Palos striker replaced Samuel Onyango with quarter an hour to play. He was right there in the mix.
Chrispinus Onyango - 4
Kennedy Otieno's replacement occupied the left wing and twice got to the byline but decided to not cross.
Geoffrey Kataka - N/A
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