- Harambee Stars fell to a 2-1 defeat to Iran in an international friendly game
- It was Kenya's first match since November 2021 after serving the suspension imposed by FIFA
- Michael Olunga's goal counted for nothing as Iran benefitted from two avoidable errors
Kenya's international goalkeeper Patrick Matasi made some costly errors as Harambee Stars went 2-1 down to Iran in an international friendly game in Tehran on March 28th.
Michael Olunga put Kenya ahead, but the hosts fought their way back with two late goals. It was Kenya's first game since the ban imposed by FIFA in 2021 was lifted last year.
Iran showed their pedigree by settling into the game quickly, with a huge crowd at the Azadi Stadium backing the team.
Playing against a team ranked number 24 in the world, Engin Firat's team went toe to toe with Iran in the first half with a resolute defensive performance at the back.
Iran failed to convert their half chances in the first half, with Kenya forced to rely on counterattacks. The best Kenyan chance of the first period fell to Duke Abuya, with the Kenya Police star directing a feeble attempt towards the goal as an in-field cross caught him flat-footed. Olunga also uncharacteristically blazed his effort well over the bar.
Exciting feature: Check out news exactly for YOU ➡️ click on "Recommended for you" and enjoy!
Masoud Juma was Kenya's liveliest player in the first half, with the striker dazzling with quick feet past Iran's players.
In the second half, captain Olunga shimmied his way through in a two vs two situation to score the opening goal of the contest against the run of the play.
Patrick Matasi's errors
Just as it looked like Harambee Stars could hold on for a famous away win, Team Melli made their way back through Mohammed Mohebi from a freekick after an error from goalkeeper Patrick Matasi. The Kenya Police goalkeeper came off his line as Rezaeian floated the ball in from the setpiece, leaving Mohedi to head into an empty net.
Matasi was at fault again 6 minutes from time after he failed to deal with a Ramin Rezaeian cross and ended up turning it into his own net.
Iran are using this international break to prepare for the 2023 Asian Cup next year. The side recently participated in the FIFA World Cup, where they exited in the group stage in a group that had England, Wales and the United States of America.
Kenya, meanwhile, will play a series of more friendly games after the side were locked out of Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
South Africa qualify for AFCON
In other news, Bafana Bafana are heading to the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in the Ivory Coast next January! They defeated Liberia 2-1 on Tuesday in Monrovia on Tuesday evening.
Sports Brief reported that the match proved to be a tense one from the onset, with the previous encounter having ended 2-2 at Orlando Stadium in Soweto last Friday. Whoever won this encounter would escape Group K alongside Morocco.
Zakhele Lepasa put the hosts into the lead in the 19th minute after slotting past the hosts' goalkeeper Tony Songo following a superb lobbed through-ball from Thapelo Morena.