CECAFA 2012: Kenya 1-0 Malawi: Stars extinguish Flames to storm semis spot

Second half substitute Mike Baraza's flicked goal after Abdalla Juma's long range drive, enough for Kenya to set up a semi-final date with Zanzibar

Harambee Stars stormed the semi-finals of the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup for the first time since 2008 after a hard fought 1-0 win over Malawi Flames in a quarters match played at Namboole Stadium on Tuesday.

AFC Leopards striker Mike Baraza, who came in as a second half substitute for the injured Bernard Mango’li, flicked home the all important goal after Malawi goalkeeper Charles Swini had failed to hold onto a long range drive from Sofapaka's Abdalla Juma.

Kenya will now face Zanzibar, who qualified on Monday after overpowering Burundi on post match penalties, in the semis on Thursday.

Kenya stand-in coach James Nandwa was impressed by the team's ability to contain pressure from Malawi in the last ten minutes of the match.

"Overall we played well, but some players went to sleep after we scored the opener. The second half was a bit open and Malawi were dangerous in the last minutes and am contended that the team remained tight in the back."

"We lost Mango'li to injury and David "Cheche" Ochieng and Humphrey Mieno's game was down today. Hopefully, we will have Mango'li back for the semis."

The Kenyans came into this tie as underdogs, having failed to defeat their Central African opponents in three previous competitive encounters. This statistic proved a catalyst for the East Africans who went all out to attack from the word go.

Edwin Lavatsa had the first real chance on goal for Kenya after Humphrey Mieno had done the donkey work in midfield after two minutes, but the Gor Mahia striker blazed over Charles Swini's post.

Malawi responded by winning a free-kick on the edge of the box moments later though Joseph Kamwendo's effort failed to severely test Kenyan custodian Duncan Ochieng.

Stars Captain Anthony Kimani then had an effort from a Rama Salim free-kick just wide as Kenya sought to up the tempo in this fast paced duel.

Nandwa was forced into a substitution five minutes to the breather replacing the injured Bernard Mang'oli with his colleague at club level Mike Baraza.

Tusker FC defender Joakins Atudo then tested Mwini with a long range free-kick on the stroke of halftime but both teams had to contend with a stalemate at halftime.

Baraza then proved the match winner midway through the second period. The veteran forward cheekily diverted a goal bound shot from left fullback Abdalla Juma into the net with Mwini stranded, forcing a majority of the supporters at the Namboole Stadium to erupt in jubilation. 

Late in the match, Patillah Omotto was introduced for the off color Rama Salim as Kenya saw out the game to seal a semi-final berth against Zanzibar.