4 December 2012

Kenya/Uganda: Will Stars Shine?

Harambee Stars must be weary of the threat posed by Malawi when the two sides meet in the quarter-finals of the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup in Uganda this afternoon (kick off 4pm).

Stars shone their way into the last eight with a comfortable 3-1 win over Ethiopia but they will have to be at their brightest to shine over The Flames of Malawi, who have found their footing over their last two matches after their opening day Group 'C' loss to Rwanda.

Coach James Nandwa's side shifted their training from their usual base of Kyambogo University grounds to the reserve pitch at the Namboole Stadium to plot how to tackle Kinnah Phiri's charges who are appearing as guest at the regional championships.

"We are not afraid of any team in this competition. We have prepared well and are ready for any opponent," said Nandwa after taking the players through a two- hour training session ahead of today's fixture.

Nandwa was pleased with the overall performance of his team in the 3-1 win over Ethiopia but was still nagged by the number of chances his team wasted. The unconvincing showing by experienced Mike Barasa might force Nandwa to make a solitary change. Should Nandwa opt to stick to the 4-4-2 system employed against the Walya Antelopes Victor Ochieng is likely to come in place of his AFC Leopards teammate.

Otherwise Sofapaka midfielder Humphrey Mieno, relegated to the bench in the last match, may find himself back in the reckoning to play alongside Gor Mahia's Rama Salim, who opened his international goals account with the first goal in Kenya's last encounter.

Clifton Miheso also made sure of cementing his place in the first eleven with an all round performance crowned by a second goal of the tournament. Malawi have held an edge over the Stars in their most recent meetings, holding Kenya to a goal-less draw in Nairobi in the World Cup qualifier after beating them at the group stages of his tournament in Tanzania last year.

Phiri will be pinning his hopes on the form of playmaker Joseph Kamweno and leading scorer Chiukwepo Msowoya, who has hit the back of the net twice so far. The will also be hoping to benefit form the fleet footed attacking players in their ranks.

However, against a Kenyan defence that has hardly put any foot wrong thus far, Malawi attack must be at their best to breach the rear-guard that is well marshaled by captain Anthony Kimani, Joakins Atudo, David Owino and Abdalla Juma. The winners of today's match will book a place in the last four where host Uganda Cranes and Ethiopia loom large.

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