Harambee Stars dearly miss home support as Burundi fans create carnival atmosphere in Malawi

Harambee Stars dearly miss home support as Burundi fans create carnival atmosphere in Malawi

Joel Omotto 19:31 - 07.06.2024

Harambee Stars felt the impact of Kenya’s inability to stage home matches in Nairobi when Burundi supporters outnumbered their fans at the Bingu Stadium in Lilongwe.

Kenya’s inability to host their 2026 World Cup qualifiers at home proved costly somewhat as Harambee Stars failed to get support when they needed it most against Burundi on Friday.

Harambee Stars drew 1-1 with Burundi at the Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe but few would have noticed that they were the home team given the large support that the Swallows enjoyed as opposed to Kenya.

Burundi supporters traveled to Malawi in good numbers and had the loudest cheers in the stands, while just a handful of Kenyan fans made it to the stadium, and the impact was felt on the pitch.

With Kenya clearly the dominant side, Engi Firat’s men wasted a number of opportunities in the first half before substitute Duke Abuya showed great composure to slot home a 72nd minute goal to give Harambee Stars the lead they deserved.

However, Burundi supporters kept pushing their team and it was not long before they got the equaliser, Sudi Abdallah getting the better of Daniel Anyembe to profit from a mix-up in the Kenyan defence for an easy tap-in five minutes from time.

The goal came at a time the Burundi fans had been vocal with sounds of vuvuzelas in the air and after the equaliser, they cheered every touch from their players who responded by laying siege at Kenya’s goal in the final proceedings of the match.

It might not have yielded a winner but the supporters played a vital part for the Swallows who finished the game strongly while denying their hosts a chance to claim maximum points.

Harambee Stars had hoped to enjoy some support when a number of fans planned to travel to Malawi for the match, as well as Tuesday’s clash against African champions Ivory Coast, but the trip ran into headwinds after a misunderstanding between organisers Kenya Football Fans Federation (KEFOFA) and Trade CS Moses Kuria.

According to KEFOFA, Kuria was supposed to facilitate the road trip to Malawi but opted against paying for it at the last minute, offering National Youth Service buses instead, which also failed to get released on time, and the result was a quiet atmosphere for the home team while the away side enjoyed great support.

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