What you need to know:
- Striker Alfred Scriven (IL Hodd, Norway) and defender Daniel Anyembe (Viborg, Denmark) will be hoping to make their debuts after making the trip.
- After arriving in Tehran on Sunday morning, Stars held a light training session in the evening.
Even as Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat insists that learning is their key objective in Tuesday's friendly match with Iran in Tehran, it will not be business as usual for the Kenyan players who will be selected to do duty in the clash.
This is because with the Turk keen on building a strong Stars side for future important assignments, it is likely that only the players who will impress against Iran will stand a good chance of earning more call ups to the national team.
The encounter will kick-off at 8pm East African Time at Azadi Stadium, whose capacity is 78,116, and will mark Stars’ return to action after more than a year in the cold due to Kenya’s suspension by Fifa.
Starting February 24 to November 27 last year, Kenya was an outcast to international football following the government’s interference in football management in the country.
Firat already drove the message home that no one is guaranteed a place in the team when he failed to include lethal striker Benson Omala in his 24-man squad that travelled to Tehran for the match.
"Being a top scorer is never a guarantee that one will make it to the national team," said Firat of his decision to drop Omala.
The 21-year-old Gor Mahia striker is at the helm of the top scorers’ chart in the Football Kenya Federation Premier League with 19 goals from 20 matches.
The friendly match between Iran and Kenya will mark the third meeting between the two teams, with the hosts, who triumphed in all the two previous meetings, heading into the contest as favourites.
Kenya and Iran first clashed in a friendly match on April 21, 1997 in Tehran with the hosts winning 3-0. They again met on March 14, 2009 in another friendly match in Tehran which Iran triumphed by a solitary goal.
Iran coached by Amir Ghalenoei is a regular participant in the Fifa World Cup.
They are ranked 24th globally and boast of several top players, while Stars are placed 101.
Ghelenoei named 11 players who featured at the 2022 Qatar World Cup for the Stars friendly game, with Bayer Leverkusen striker Sardar Azmoun and Dinamo Zagreb defender Sadegh Moharrami highlighting the list.
At the prestigious global showpiece, Iran bowed out at the group stage after finishing third in pool ‘B’.
They lost all their matches, 6-2 to England, 2-0 to Wales and 1-0 to the United States. They head into the clash against Kenya on the back of a 1-1 draw with Russia at home on Thursday.
“I was surprised that even in the friendly match (against Russia) they (Iran) were very aggressive, working very hard and played with all their top players. We will face a really top team and this is what I want,” said Firat who is on his second stint with Stars.
It will be the Turk’s fifth match as Stars' coach, having been in charge of the team’s four Group “E” 2022 World Cup qualifiers matches in 2021.
Firat had a rude welcome to the job after high-flying Mali thrashed Stars 5-0 in Morocco, before losing by a solitary goal to the West African nation in the return leg in Nairobi.
Stars then drew 1-1 with Uganda in Kampala before edging Rwanda 2-1 in Nairobi.
Skipper Michael Olunga, midfielders Kenneth Muguna and Richard Odada and defenders Joseph Okumu and Erick “Marcelo” Ouma are some of the players who are primed to start.
Striker Alfred Scriven (IL Hodd, Norway) and defender Daniel Anyembe (Viborg, Denmark) will be hoping to make their debuts after making the trip.
After arriving in Tehran on Sunday morning, Stars held a light training session in the evening.