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Brave Harambee Stars fall to Iran

Kenya’s national team,Harambee Stars, fought hard only to go down 2-1 to former Asian Cup champions Iran in an international friendly played at Azadi Stadium in Tehran on Tuesday night.

The game started at a furious pace with Iran as expected, pressing high to nullify Harambee Stars’ effort to rapidly circulate the ball. It was a fascinating tactical battle although at times  predictable.

As a result, there was a lot of possession turn over and not enough in the way of scoring chances.

The first real opportunity came after the fifth minute when Harambee Stars’ goalkeeper Patrick Matasi made a save from Mohamed Mohebbi, who had done well to bypass the defense and put himself into a shooting position.

But the former Santa Clara striker failed to get any real power behind his shot and Mtasi punched the ball for an unfruitful corner.

Stars were under siege with Matasi  being forced to come out and block Evidence Makgopa’s shot, before Shahriyar Moghanlou placed his effort wide of the target with only the keeper to beat.

In the 17th minute Harambee Stars suddenly shifted up a couple of gears and  Michael Olunga hit a wild effort from a tight angle well off target .

On the half-hour mark, Duke Abuya had a chance in between Iran defenders but his first touch let him down and the opportunity slipped.

Rouzbeh Cheshmi and Mehdi Taremi were both sent through on goal after Harambee Stars had given away possession, but both players were superbly denied by Matasi.

Iran coach Amir Ghalenoei made four changes at the start of second half, with Hossein Hosseini, Milad Sarlak, Ramin Rezaeian and Mehdi Torabi replacing Payam Niazmand, Mohammad Karimi, Sadegh Moharrami and Alireza Jahanbakhs.

However, Harambee Stars took control of the game immediately after the restart and their efforts were rewarded in the 49th minute when Michael Olunga finished a race chance to make it 1-0.

Gent defender Joseph Okumu drew a comfortable clearance of Ramin Rezaeian on the 69th as the action switched to the opposite end again.

The momentum was with the former Asian champions thereafter and they managed to get an equalizer in the 76th minute courtesy of Mohamaad Mohebi who nodded in Ramin Rezarian cross past Matasi.

Eight minutes later, Ramin Rezarian struck home a low drive past Kenyan custodian Patrick Matasi after being played through by  Mehdi Taremi.

Olunga nearly restored parity in the closing stages of the match when he produced a lovely turn and got off a shot from range that Payam Niazmand had to tip over the bar.

Stars looked to go up a gear in what remained of the game, but they struggled to find a way past Team Melli’s resilient defence.

How they lined up:

Iran: Payam Niazmand, Sadegh Moharrami, Armin Sohrabian, Hossein  KanaeniZadegan, Ehsan HajiSafi, Rouzbeh Cheshmi, Mohammad Karimi, Mohamed Mohebbi, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Mehdi Taremi, Shahriyar Moghanlou


Kenya: Patrick Matasi, Eric Ouma, Brian Mandela, Joseph Okumu, Amos Nondi, Anthony Akumu, Richard Odada, Duke Abuya, Victor Omune, Masud Juma, Michael Olunga


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