Harambee Stars land in Iran ahead of friendly
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Iran national football team, “Team Melli” could in the near future tour Nairobi to face Harambee Stars in a friendly match.
Iran Ambassador to Kenya Dr Jafar Barmaki on Sunday said that he has held discussions with the Football Federation Islamic Republic of Iran (FFIRI) over possibilities of “Team Melli” camping in Kenya, and playing some friendly matches with Stars being one of their opponents.
Dr Barmaki spoke at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) where he saw off the Kenyan side, who were flying out to Tehran for their friendly match against Iran on Tuesday.
“I was in touch with the Iranian Football Federation…Maybe we will have the Iran team hold the camp here (Kenya) and play some friendly matches with Kenya, and maybe some other African teams. We can work on that,” said Dr Barmaki.
He said Tuesday’s encounter between Iran and Kenya takes him back to April 21, 1997 when the two sides faced off for the first time.
“In fact it was around 25 years ago when I was here for another mission joining our embassy. We sent the Kenya team to Iran and they had a match there in Iran,” he said.
Iran defeated Kenya 3-0 in the friendly match.Their second encounter was on March 14, 2009 in another friendly contest held in Tehran which Iran triumphed by a solitary goal.
After departing JKIA some minutes past 1am, the Kenyan contingent of 24 players, touched down in Tehran about 11am Sunday local time.
Coach Engin Firat’s side are expected to hold some recovery session later in the day before training proper on Monday morning. The friendly match will be held at at Azadi Stadium from 7pm East Africa Time.
“It is a friendly match so winning is not important but taking lessons from each,” said Dr Barmaki who also wished Stars success.
Firat has made it clear that their goal against Iran is not to win but to pick vital lessons on how to improve.
“The reason why I want this kind of a match is for the players to understand what it means to play at the top level, where we are and where we have to go. This is a match to learn, show character, be united as a team and try our best,” said Firat on Sunday.
Stars captain Michael Olunga said: “Everyone is ready for this challenge. It is a good game and we will give our best to register a positive result,” said the Al-Duhail SC attacker. Iran heads into the match ranked 24th globally while Kenya are ranked 101.