The winners and losers from Harambee Stars' Four Nations Tournament triumph

FOOTBALL The winners and losers from Harambee Stars' Four Nations Tournament triumph

Mark Kinyanjui 07:32 - 29.03.2024

Engin Firat is among the biggest winners' from Harambee Stars' Malawi Four Nations Tournament triumph, but who are the other gainers and losers from the international break?

Harambee Stars came from behind to beat Zimbabwe 3-1 to win the Malawi Four Nations Tournament on Tuesday evening.

Although it was only a friendly tournament, several lessons were learned from the tourney that the side will have to pay keen attention to ahead of matches against Ivory Coast and Burundi at home in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Some members of the party benefited massively from the tournament, but others fluffed their lines.

Without further ado, here are the winners and losers from the tournament.


Engin Firat

To start us off, head coach Engin Firat is the biggest winner from the international break. Heading into the tournament, the Turkish tactician had to take a lot of stick from fans throughout the tournament for many reasons, including the omission of on-form Gor Mahia midfielder Austin Odhiambo.

He also had to deal with interdisciplinary issues in camp after Abud Omar and Erick Johana Omondi (more on them later) were involved in a brawl, which left them with no choice but to axe them.

However, his decisions were vindicated as everything he appeared to touch in Malawi turned to gold. This was reflected in the results, as they thumped Malawi 4-0, before beating Zimbabwe 3-1.

His tactical blueprint also looks like it is starting to be sustainable. Ahead of the June qualifiers, he will be hopeful nothing destructive happens to the team that has now won big in each of their last three games.

Vincent Mahiga

AFC Leopards defender Vincent Mahiga has definitely grabbed his chance with both hands.

Keep in mind that this was a player that was not even supposed to be in Malawi, and only got called up because Abud Omar was involved in an altercation with Erick Johana Omondi, which resulted in both players being sent away from camp.

Mahiga looked mature in both his outings for the side. He offered overlapping runs to his winger Ayub Timbe, and defensively, looked the part, using his recovery pace to track and make inch-perfect tackles throughout the tournament.

He will surely have put himself in a good place for the June qualifiers, and on merit, Erick Marcelo Ouma, who missed the tournament through injury, will have to fight hard to win his place back.

Michael Olunga

Michael Olunga scored a hat trick against the Warriors to make it his seventh goal in three caps for the side.

In so doing, he reached the 29 cap mark, which now leaves him just five shot of breaking the record set by Dennis Oliech during his Harambee Stars career.

If he goes on with his scoring rate, he will have become the record goalscorer by September this year, which will be a huge achievement considering the stick he has gotten recently.

Perharps the genuine competition John Avire, Benson Omala and Jonah Ayunga have brought to camp have strengthened him further.

Ayub Masika

Ayub Timbe Masika enjoyed himself in the tournament. He got the third goal against Malawi and continued that form against Zimbabwe even if he did not score.

He was a joy to behold isolating his man on one v one situations and direct pace.

He has given the side fresh impetus given his pace, as well as ability to create one v one situations from the flank which have been a source of creativity. 

The Azerbaijan-based player seems to have gotten over his injury issues as well, which had hindered his influence for the side.

If he can stay fit, he is going to be a very important part of the team’s immediate future.

Patrick Matasi

Patrick Matasi has cemented his place as starting goalkeeper at the tournament with his assured displays in goal, and even though Byrne Omondi had been on form before the injury, he will have to bid his time to win his place back, and earn more minutes for his new club Bandari.

Matasi showed leadership with his constant communication and oozed calmness, and his penalty save against Malawi only added bonus points to his repertoire in the national team.


Richard Odada

Usually evergreen, Odada was unusually lackluster in Malawi. Maybe it is no wonder he has been relegated to being a substitute for his club Aalborg in recent games.

Odada was naive, careless and appeared too sure of himself at times during the tournament, and this even got him sent off against Zimbabwe.

He has to calm down moving forward, as the qualifiers against Ivory Coast and Burundi will have zero room for error.

Abud Omar

Abud Omar’s career with the national team is in jeopardy after he was excommunicated from camp for his brawl with Erick Johana Omondi.

Omondi’s career may not be over considering Kenya has a creativity problem in the whole, but Aboud would not have loved seeing his replacement Mahiga grab his chance with both hands, and considering Erick ‘Marcelo’ Ouma will be back after his injury, there may not be room for a third left back in the upcoming window.