2016 Kabaddi World Cup :: Kenya win hearts in narrow loss to Iran - News

Kenya win hearts in narrow loss to Iran

11 October 2016

Kabaddi heavyweights Iran were given a scare by newcomers Kenya in a tense, tactical encounter on Day 5 of the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup at The Arena in Ahmedabad. It was a cautious start by both teams, almost sizing each other up like boxers do. Iran started better of the two sides as it eventually made the difference in a close 33-28 victory over a spirited, resilient Kenyan side. It was low-scoring match as compared to the recent matches but was by no means short on excitement.

Iran had captain Meraj Sheykh and defender Soleiman Pahlevani missing from their line-up, having been laid low by a stomach bug. It was interesting to see whether their absence could hamper Iran and it almost did! They put in some good raids to start with and choked the Kenyan raiders with some sublime defensive work. It took until the 12th minute for Kenya to register their first touch point through Phelix Opana. Kenya’s hero in the first game David Mosambayi put in a great super tackle when he had only one other teammate on his side, to get them going. Mosambayi struggled though, to get successful raids in as the Iranians seemed to worked out a strategy for him.

Abolfazl Maghsoudlou Mahalli was brilliant with his raids, especially in the first half and was joined in by Saeid Ghaffari in doing so. Ghaffari’s crucial two-point raid helped them get breathing space in the closing minutes, extending a two-point lead to four. The Kenyans played a lot in the match with 3-4 players or less but did better in defence in such a state. Trailing 10-19 at half-time, Kenya gradually began to get more success in their raids and defended better as Mosambayi also began to get going. In the 2nd half, Kenya even went on to outscore their more-fancied opponents 9-3 in a 10 minute-spell which rattled the Iranians for the first time in the tournament.

Eventually, Iran scraped through thanks to their experience and excellent teamwork in defence, with stand-in captain Fazel Atrachali shining throughout with his tremendous ankle-holds. But Kenya will go out from this match with their heads held high as they showed that they are good enough for the highest level of competition. They never let Iran easy, slowing the pace of the game and getting their tactics right for most part. The other teams better watch out for this fast-learning Kenyan side!

For complete stats from this exciting clash, head to our MatchCentre!