Olunga strikes but Harambee Stars fall to Iran

Harambee Stars midfielder Anthony Akumu.[FKF]

Harambee Stars marked their return to international football after two year's absence with a 2-1 defeat after going down to Iran on Tuesday night in Tehran.

Stars captain Michael Olunga gave Kenya the lead in the 5st1 minute before Patrick Matasi howlers gifted Mohammad Mohebi and Ramin Rezaeian two quick-fire goals in the final 15-minutes as the Iranians picked a win.

Kenya who were playing their first international match since November 15, 2021 when they defeated Rwanda 2-1 in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers begun the match pretty well composed at the back and midfield as they held off the Iranians to a 0-0 stalemate at the break.

Momentum picked up in the final half when Qatar-based Olunga picked up a ball from the middle of the field, shrugged off one Iran defender before sprinting his way to the opposite box to slot past a helpless keeper.

Kenya took an unfamiliar 1-0 lead in hostile territory in 51st minute, as Engin Firat introduced former Gor Mahia captain Kenneth Muguna to steer the East African ship to glory.

However, in the final 15 minutes, two mistakes saw Kenya surrender their well deserved lead to trail 2-1 in a span of seven minutes.

In the 76th minute, Eric Ouma committed a needless foul at the edge of the box that saw Iran get a free kick that Mohammad Mohebi headed past a position less Matasi who left half his goal uncovered and was caught unaware by the set piece that tied the scores at 1-1.

Seven minutes later, things went from bad to worse for Matasi whose howler gifted Iran the win.

From a short free kick, Rezaeian attempted to cut the ball back into the area but his low cross-squeezed through Matasi’s hands before rolling over the line.

The goal gifted Iran a 2-1 win over Kenya.

Harambee Stars have now lost all their encounters against Iran who defeated them 3-0 (1997) and 1-0 (2009) in their previous encounters.

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