Kenya were held to a goalless draw by Malawi in Nairobi as both sides opened their group campaign for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
Despite fielding the returning Dennis Oliech,
the Kenyans failed to trouble Malawi goalkeeper Simplex Nthara.
"I think Harambee Stars have a long way to go. They were playing at home but never created chances," Flames coach Kinnah Phiri told BBC Sport.
Kenya now prepare for next week's trip to Namibia, while Malawi host Nigeria.
And Phiri is confident about his team's chances against the Super Eagles, who kick off their Group F campaign at home to Namibia on Sunday.
"These boys make look small, but they are very intelligent and very fit and no team can play around with them," he rallied.
"We have upset Egypt, DR Congo and Guinea at home - so Nigeria can be another victim."
Meanwhile, Kenya coach Francis Kimanzi says there is room for improvement following his team's lacklustre display.
"Malawi are a good team, very strong and look like a team that have been playing a long time - and they got what they needed," said a disappointed Kenya coach Francis Kimanzi.
"We still have an opportunity - and we can improve and get more organised."
Neither Malawi nor Kenya have ever qualified for the World Cup finals.