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Stars friendly match called off

NAIROBI, July 24 – Harambee Stars friendly match against Iran that was scheduled for August 1 in Tehran has been cancelled.

Kenya Football Federation chairman Mohammed Hatimy said Thursday that the joint KFF/KPL Harambee Stars management board has decided not to have the fixture because it was not falling on the Fifa international friendly matches calendar.

Sport Global Management, a France based Fifa-Uefa licensed international match organizing company had approached the board for the friendly match in Iran.

KFF chief executive officer Sam Obingo even signed the contract and Fifa’s official website had even indicated the match was on for August 1 in Tehran.

"Sammy (Obingo) had not looked at the Fifa calendar. It was a mistake. We want to send a team that we will use in the World Cup qualifiers which means having all our professionals available and this cannot happen on August 1," Hatimy said.

He added: "We have written to the Iranians telling them we cannot play the match on that date. The Fifa week is August 20 and the board is looking to play a friendly against maybe a West African country ahead of our next World Cup qualifier."

Iran are preparing for 2010 World Cup qualification in Asia and are grouped with North Korea, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Kenya face Namibia in September and Guinea in November in the final round of matches for Group Two before the next phase of qualifiers.

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Group leaders from the 12 groups and the eight best runners up advance to the final elimination stage of 20 teams divided into five pools of four teams each.

A meeting with Iran would have given Kenya an opportunity to stalk the scalp of one of Asia’s strongest football playing nation while earning an appearance fee on the side as part of the contract. Iran, at 37, are the second highest Fifa ranked nation from Asia. Japan are first at 34.

Iran have played in three World Cups, the last appearance was in Germany 2006 where the national team went out in the group stages.

The Middle East soccer powerhouse won the Asian Games in 2002 and finished third in the Asian Cup of 1980, 1988, 1996 and 2004. They won the same tournament successively in 1968, 1972 and 1976.

Kenya, in contrast, only have five African Cup of Nations appearances and have never advanced beyond the group stages.

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