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Harambee Stars to play Iran in Tehran friendly, squad named

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Harambee
Harambee Stars line up for the match against Mali
  • Kenya will play Iran on March 28
  • This will be the first international match for Kenya since 2021
  • The team assembles in camp on Friday

Kenya’s Harambee Stars will face off with Iran in an international friendly match in Tehran on March 28, with head coach Engin Firat announcing an initial 30-man squad that sets into camp.

Stars were initially set to play Burundi in two matches on March 25 and 28, but the game was called off, with the East African neighbors instead set to play Indonesia.

Firat says the friendly match against Iran, Kenya’s first since November 2021, will be a good test for his players. Kenya has not played a single international match since the 2022 World Cup qualifier against Rwanda in Nairobi due to the then FIFA suspension.

“This will be a good match for us as we try to rebuild the team and see what we need to improve on. Iran are a good team and a strong opponent for us,” said the tactician.

Playing a world class team 

Outgoing Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat

Outgoing Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat

He added; “Playing against world-class teams frequently will help us to be ready at the important moment when we play world cup qualifiers. We can play weaker teams and get easy victories but this will not help us at the important moment.”

The tactician has already named his squad to face the Iranians and has included two debutants.

Defender Daniel Anyembe who plays in Denmark and forward Alfred Scriven who plays in Norway have been handed maiden calls to the team.

Both have Kenyan fathers, with Scriven having already featured for the Danish youth teams, but has now decided to represent the country of his father’s birth.

Firat says he is also looking to net in more players of Kenyan roots abroad to strengthen the national team.

“We need a better scouting system to find players who are available to play for Kenya and convince them early to do so. These players have an advantage because some of them have played even in European national teams at junior levels so they are tactically and mentally ready. Other African countries are doing this and we need to do the same,” said the tactician.

Olunga to captain team 

Harambee Stars players

Harambee Stars players celebrate Michael Olunga’s goal against Rwanda

The team will be skippered by Michael Olunga based in Qatar, while he will also have company in the FKF Premier League top scorer Benson Omalla who will look to finally break into the national team starting 11.

According to the coach Eric Johannah misses out due to injury and will not be part of the squad this time.

Other local based players who have been handed maiden calls include Nzoia Sugar’s Hassan Beja who has been one of their key players in their decent run in the league as well as Joseph Mwangi.

Kenya Police’s Alvin Mang’eni has also been called up to the squad for the first time ever, as KCB defender Maurice Owino.

The squad of local based players is expected to start a residential training camp on Friday, just after the league breaks for the international break.

Provisional Squad

Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat

Outgoing Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat

Goalkeepers

Patrick Matasi (Police FC), Ian Otieno (Zesco, Zambia), Bryne Odhiambo (KCB), Levin Opiyo (AFC Leopards)

Defenders

Joseph Okumu (Gent, Belgium), Brian Mandela (South Africa), Johnstone Omurwa (Estrela, Portugal), Eric Ouma (AIK, Sweden), Andrew Juma (Bandari), David Ochieng (Mathare United), Maurice Owino (KCB), Collins Shichenje (AIK, Sweden), Mohamed Siraj (Bandari), Daniel Anyembe (Viborg, Denmark), Daniel Sakari (Tusker), Abud Omar (Kenya Police)

Midfielders

Amos Nondi (Ararat, Armenia), Richard Odada (Philadelphia Union, USA), Teddy Akumu (Sagan Tosu, Japan), Alpha Onyango (Gor Mahia), Joseph Mwangi (Nzoia Sugar), Kenneth Muguna (Azam, Tanzania), Abdallah Hasan (Bandari), Duke Abuya (Kenya Police), Wilkims Ochieng (FC Koper, Slovenia), Moses Mudavadi (KK Homeboyz), Alvin Mang’eni (Kenya Police), Hasan Beja (Nzoia Sugar), Victor Omune (AFC Leopards)

Forwards

Benson Omalla (Gor Mahia), Elvis Rupia (Kenya Police), Michael Olunga (Al Duhail, Qatar), Masud Juma (Difaâ Hassani El Jadidi, Morocco), Alfred Scriven (IL Hødd, Norway)

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