Francis Kahata tapped home from close range in the 78th minute as Harambee Stars made it two wins in a row edging Malawi 1-0 in an international friendly match at the Kasarani stadium on Tuesday.
This is the first victory for Stars against Malawi since September 2004 when Kenya saw off the Flames 3-2 at the same venue.
The two sides had battled to a goalless draw in a friendly match in April last year. Overall, Kenya has now won eleven times against Malawi in 51 meetings.
Stars had been subdued by a dominant Malawi side until Erick Ouma, who replaced Vasalund teammate Ovella Ochieng at the restart, initiated an attacking move with Abud Omar before delivering a perfect cross that Kahata tapped home past Malawi custodian Brighton Munthali.
The former Gor Mahia youngster had missed the target by a whisker in the 68th minute with his header from Joakins Atudo's cross flying inches wide.
“I know his qualities, I didn’t wait for today to see what he can do for the team, he was one of the best players for us in India,” Kenya coach Sebastian Migne sang Ouma's praises in his post-match comments.
His counterpart Ron Van Geneugden praised his boys despite the defeat.
“I think the game was even in the first half but Kenya made changes in the second half to be more offensive and that won them the game but towards the end I thought we deserved a penalty,” said the Malawi coach who has won only two of 17 matches since taking charge of the Flames.
Kenya coach Sebastian Migne made two changes to the team that edged Ghana 1-0 last Saturday in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier two days ago starting Joackins Atudo and Jesse Were in place of injured duo of Philemon Otieno and Michael Olunga.
Zambia based Were was however a last minute change after Olunga was ruled out minutes to the game.
The Flames, who fell 3-0 away to Morocco in a Group “B” qualifier, got the ball rolling and were the first to test Patrick Matasi in Kenya goal.
Musa Mohammed, captaining the side in the absence of Victor Wanyama and David “Calabar” Owino, fouled Richard Mbulu outside 18 but Gerald Phiri’s resultant free kick went wide on the eighth minute.
In the 14th minute, Dennis Odhiambo headed off target Francis Kahata’s corner kick after Mzava Limbikani had deflected Ovella Ochieng’s cross from the right flank.
The Kenyans donning their red home kit struggled to penetrate the Flames’ backline led by skipper Limbikani and John Lanjesi.
John Banda beat Abud Omar with pace on the left flank to float in a pin-point cross that Phiri attempted to connect home but he was denied by an alert Matasi who got his fingertips to the ball before Stars hacked the ball to safety.
Migne did a double change at the start of the second half resting Jesse Were for Sofapaka’s Pistone Mutamba and Ovella for Ouma with Malawi coach Ron Van Geneurden pulling out Richard Mbulu for Msowoya Chiukepo in the 54th minute.