Stars play Malawi Flames today: Bandari’s Shikalo and Sofapaka’s Mutamba in line for starting roles

By Gilbert Wandera: Tuesday, September 11th 2018 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Football
KENYA HARAMBEE STARS VS GHANA Kenya Harambee Stars Ismael Said Athuman(C) is is sandwiched by Afriyie Aquah(L) and Andy Yiafdom of Ghana during their Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani Stadium on Saturday 08/9/18[Boniface Okendo,Standard]

Coach Migne expected to ring changes this afternoon as Kenya welcome Malawi at Kasarani Stadium.

Harambee Stars are back on the pitch this afternoon to take on Malawi in an international friendly at Kasarani Stadium.

The two teams had contrasting results in their weekend Africa Cup of Nations qualifier matches.

While Kenya registered a famous 1-0 win over Ghana, the Flames of Malawi got a 3-0 bashing from Morocco.

Harambee Stars coach Sebastian Migne has all his first team players, who downed Ghana for today’s match as they are yet to travel back to their clubs.

It is an important friendly match that will give the Kenyan coach another opportunity to have a look at some players, who did not feature during the weekend.

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Migne could start Faruk Shikalo in goal ahead of Patrick Matasi. The former has had quite a season in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) and has so far kept a clean sheet in 14 matches earning a call-up to the national team.

Sofapaka striker Pistone Mutamba is another player likely to start against the Flames.

Mutamba started on the bench against Ghana but never made it to the pitch. At the back, Joash Onyango who was sent off against the Black Stars could start alongside David ‘Calabar’ Owino and team-mate Philemon Otieno.

After failing to score against Ghana, Michael Olunga has another opportunity to put his name on the score sheet.

The Japan-based striker said he is looking forward to the friendly and has challenged local players to rise up to the occasion every time they get an opportunity to start.

“The friendly against Malawi is important and we look forward to it. On the same note, I want to say I was very impressed by the local players who featured against Ghana. They gave it their all and their performance should be a motivation to other local players that when they get a chance they need to work hard and prove they deserve it,” he said.

Stars had five local players in the starting line-up against Ghana including Patrick Matasi, Dennis Odhiambo, Francis Kahata, Philemon Otieno and Joash Onyango.

The five covered up for other key players who missed out for various reasons.   Team captain Victor Wanyama is still recovering from a knee injury while Brian Mandela and Ayub Timbe were suspended for the match.

In a related development, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa has assured local fans that replica jerseys for the team will soon be available.

Mwendwa, who was reacting to pleas by fans to have the jerseys said previous efforts to have the jerseys have been frustrated by various factors.

“We have had challenges with manufacturers some of whom have been willing to provide just a few and then we buy the rest, but it has not made sense and so we have abandoned such efforts. However, we are working on it and the fans should have them soon,” he said.

With Stars back in contention for a place in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals, the demand for replica jerseys will only rise.