Iran edge determined Harambee Stars 2-1 in Tehran
A hard fighting Harambee Stars went down 2-1 to hosts Iran, courtesy of Ramin Razaeian’s late goal aided by a laughable slip-up by goalkeeper Patrick Matasi, who ironically had an arguably great show save for the incident.
In the Tuesday night match staged at the Azad Stadium in Tehran, Captain Michael Olunga had given Kenya the lead early in the second half before Mohammad Mohebi equalized in the 76th.
Iran had a heavy presence from the start, cheered by the home crowd but Engin Firat’s men were careful defending in numbers to soak the pressure.
Matasi was forced to action a number of times by the hungry Iranian forwards, Shahriyar Moghanlou coming close in the 9th minute.
He was almost breaking through Kenya’s defense three minutes later, before Joseph Okumu clever block denied him a chance to pull the trigger, allowing Matasi to collect the ball.
The Police FC goalkeeper was also on point in picking high corner balls, mostly from the right side which the Iranians were forcing in quick succession.
After struggling to settle in the match in the early stages, Stars finally found the rhythm towards the end of the first half, and made a couple of advances towards Iran goal.
It was Olunga and Masoud Juma who were more visible in the half attempts, the former blasting a shot over the bar from outside the 18-yard box before the Morocco based man kneed straight to the keeper from the box.
Six minutes into the second half, Olunga made it 1-0 after cleverly losing his marker and dashed into the box, and was composed amidst two chasers as he unleashed a low drive into the right corner past the keeper.
It was like a wakeup call for the hosts, who responded ferociously and their efforts paid off when Mohebi guided Razaeian’s free-kick into the net, with Matasi clearly misplaced.
Nondi had failed to his leg on the ball, before it was converted.
The Iranians had not finished their business. Four minutes to the clock, Razaeian ran from the left and forced in a low ball which Matasi appeared to parry the wrong way – into the net despite having the advantage of stopping the attacker who was in a tight angle.
This was Kenya’s first match in over a year, following suspension by FIFA from international football.
Patrick Matasi (GK), Eric Ouma, Brian Mandela, Joseph Okumu, Amos Nondi, Anthony Akumu, Richard Odada, Duke Abuya, Victor Omune, Masud Juma, Michael Olunga.
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