Harambee Stars opponents Iran held to a draw by Russia

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FOOTBALL Harambee Stars opponents Iran held to a draw by Russia

Festus Chuma 08:50 - 24.03.2023

Iran will play Kenya in a friendly on Wednesday, March 28 in Tehran.

Harambee Stars opponents Iran fought back to hold Russia 1-1 in an international friendly match played at Azadi Stadium in Tehran on Thursday night.

Kenya will face Iran next Wednesday and hopefully learnt a thing or two on how to engage their opponents from their Thursday fixture. 

Russia's Anton Miranchuk opened the scoring from a penalty in the 29th minute, but Team Meli fought back and drew level through Mehdi Taremi's second-half spot-kick.

Iran now shifts focus to Kenya, whom they are facing next week for their final match of the international break.

The game was coach Amir Ghalenoei's first match in charge since his re-appointed as Iran national team coach in March.

Ghalenoei replaced Portugal's Carlos Queiroz, who had led Iran at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

The former Iran international midfielder signed a deal to lead Iran until at least the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.

In the match against Russia, Ghalenoei handed a debut to striker Shariyar Moghanlou who missed several chances in the first half, and he had to replace him with Reza Assadi deep in the second stanza.

Overall, the Iranians were solid at the back. The combination of central defenders Shoja Khaikzadeh and Hossein Kananizadegan, the key defenders in qualifying Iran for the World Cup, formed a formidable front to protect Alireza Beiranvand between the posts.

Kenya will be facing Iran for the third time in history. The first meeting between the two nations was in April 1977, when Stars went down 3-1.

In the second tie, played in 2009 in Tehran, the Harambee Stars lost 1-0 to Team Melli.

Kenya's friendly against Iran will be Harambee Stars' first game in over a year after the country was suspended from international football by the world governing body FIFA in March last year over government interference.

Stars were originally scheduled to play Burundi in Nairobi, but a last-minute decision by the latter to play Indonesia in Jakarta necessitated the change to Iran, whom Kenya had planned to play later in the year.