Iraq edged out Kenya 2-1 in an international friendly match played at the Basra Stadium, Iraq on Thursday.
Hekmat Nouri and Ahmed Ibrahim netted a goal apiece in the 17th and 45th minute to render Michael Olunga’s 85th minute strike a mere consolation.
Stars coach Stanley Okumbi preferred KPL Goalkeeper of the year Patrick Matasi in between the sticks as David Owino and Jockins Atudo partnered at the back.
Michael Olunga was the lead striker with Eric Johanna playing behind him as Jesse Were and Samuel Onyango operated on the flanks.
Iraq got matters underway on the right foot teasing Matasi in goal. Ali Adnan’s shot in the fifth minute went wide before Atudo cleared his lines a minute later.
In the 13th minute, Aymen Hussein lobbed Matasi after being teed up by Justine Azeez but Atudo was quick to clear the ball off the goal line, Stars surving the first scare.
Stars rarely controlled proceedings with the hosts enjoying possession willingly. Iraq won a penalty in the 17th minute after Onyango fouled Azeez inside the box.
Hekmat Nouri easily sent Matasi the wrong way for Iraq’s opener. Azeez almost doubled the lead in the 28th minute but was denied by a busy Owino at the back.
Kenya’s closest chance at goal came in the 34th minute from a free kick following Waleed Salim foul on Abud Omar on the left wing.
Eric Johanna took responsibility but sent it over the bar. The Sweden based midfielder later wasted a 38th minute corner as Okumbi’s charges huffed and puffed for a shot on target in vain.
The first half fast approaching, Iraq continued with the onslaught. Ali Adnan was the terroziing Kenya’s midfield that Anthony Akumu and Ernest Wendo.
Adnan put through Aymen Hussein in the 42nd minute but his attempted chip over Matasi was cleared off the line by Abud for a corner that resulted to the second goal.
Azeez played a short corner to Waleed who floated in a dangerous cross that Ahmed Ibrahim converted with a beautiful glancing to the right hand side of Matasi’s net.
Okumbi’s substitutions at the start of the second half somehow worked in Kenya’s favour as they would string passes in the final third.
Miheso, who replaced Onyango in the 50th minute delivered in a cross from the left channel but Olunga’s header was blocked by Iraq defenders.
The Spain based striker missed a glorius opportunity to net a consolation for Kenya in the 68th minute. The Girona forward was nicely fed by John Makwatta but saw his left foot shot hit the side net despite rounding off goalkeeper Mohamed Kassid.
Abud combined with Akumu in the 72nd minute but the Zesco Unitd midfielder’s long range shot veered off the target.
Kenya created chances one after the other but it was Olunga’s goal five minutes to the break that gave Kenya hopes. Miheso passed to the Girona FC striker who unleashed a lowleft foot shot into the back of the net.
They lost 2-0 to the side in the first meeting played on December 15, 2003 in a friendly in Bahrain.
Kenya departs for Bangkok on Friday ahead of another friendly against Thailand on Sunday.