Not to be
Anger, rage and disappointment at Iran's loss to China
August 4, 2004
Iran's storied push to win a record fourth Asian Cup ended
Tuesday. Sitting here crushed, I decided to write not about the
game but my experience with my fellow Iranians who like me for
two weeks, put their life on hold to cheer not just our football
team, but Iran.
In our loss in the semi-finals to host China:
-I won't even mention the referee giving Satar Zareh a unwarranted
red card, and refusing to whistle the game fair and let both teams
play at full strength.
-I won't mention how a team like Iran would play defensively
against a team it could crush by at least 3 goals, the tactics
team the drive and push were not there from minute 1.
-Hejazi and Parvin meant when they said that in the IRI, Iran
plays up to half its potential (won't get into that).
-I won't mention the fact that Golmohammadi went for the worse
penalty kick ever and even try to answer the question as to why
Branco even chose him to be the fifth kicker or even Mobali the
fourth(we had pro players as witnessed with Mahdavikia) that could've
taken them instead of Mobali and especially Golmohammadi.
-Congratulations to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) as
it wanted to see either China or Japan win the cup and it's pushing
and prodding finally came to fruition.
-Congrats to the IRI for the streets of Iran are
empty today. Now back to the experience in a small town near Washington
D.C, where my second home was based for two weeks.
From 3 am to 6 am to 9am we, I'd say about five to six of
us, came together in the mornings to cheer our team melli. We were
from all walks of life, different age groups, from teenagers, to
twenty year olds, middle age compatriots and grandfathers. Each
of us brought with us a diversity of life experiences and thoughts,
but one thing united us, our passion for Iran.
Before this cup,
I didn't know any of them, yet we all came together, like
we were lifetime friends. Prior to each game we exchanged
what we thought about the team, during the game we all became one,
analyzing the game, yelling at the telli for mistakes, cursing
our lungs out. And when Iran scored, the joy one felt at this little
kabobi was pure love for our fatherland.
During these weeks, I had put my life on hold, work was second
priority, my social life took a backseat, I drank, ate, and thought
only of Iranian football. I was glad to see that I was not alone
the core of our group of five to six guys whom like myself lived
Iran's dream of winning the fourth Asian Cup and solidifying
Iran's place as the best in Asia. We analyzed everything,
and after each game, looked forward to the next.
From the beginning I had a good feeling things would go good, as
Iran through the individual talents of our players took care of
Thailand easily 3-0. Next up Oman, my good friend from Boston came
for the Oman game. That prior to the semi-finals was one of the
worse displays of football I had seen. I can still remember the
fight between Rezaie and Badavi. It seemed all was lost, Iran was
gone for good, where was the team everyone expected to see?
When Iran scored in the final minute to basically send us to the
Quarterfinals, Darya Kabob exploded, cheers, hugs and high fives
all around. Not only was team melli given a second chance to re-group
and take it to the other teams, but Darya Kabob and our group got
a chance to breathe a sigh of relief.
As Iran advanced and its play came to represent what we all knew
Persian football to be, as witnessed in the draw against Japan,
more and more people came to watch the games at Darya Kabob. For
the quarterfinals against fellow Asian football powerhouse, South
Korea, at least thirty to forty people showed up. These fans got
to see and experience what the core at Darya had been experiencing
for the past two weeks. They went through the ups and downs of
the game, and at the end, felt the same joy we did with Iran's
That South Korea game in which Iran
beat the 2002 World Cup fourth place team showcased not just to
Asia but the world what Iranian football is all about. With our
team that was missing a core of its players due to injuries, suspensions,
and omission, Iran's team at half strength still took it
to the South Koreans. We were all proud of that game; Iran's
talents were shown to the world, Persian football it seemed was
making its comeback, and with a vengeance. A glow of pride could
be seen in the core of us at Darya, who had seen it all with this
team. Could it be that Iran would win it all, with this kind of
display of world class football?
Then the semi-finals, where was the Iran team we all knew could
crush this second tier Asian team at ease? It was obvious
that the whole Asian confederation(AFC) was against Iran, as witnessed
in the harsh penalties put on our players after the Oman game and
the lack of punishing other teams that committed acts ten times
worse then Iran. Whatever the case, our boys gave blood and sweat
to pull one out for the homeland, down to ten men due to a red
card that was not warranted.
Playing in a hostile atmosphere
where the Arab referee was doing all to make sure China advanced
the finals, our boys gave it a fight and through it all, the core
Darya Kabob almost knew the inevitable, we as 'arm-chair' coaches
knew Iran was going to fall. Nevertheless, the penalties came,
we all got up, like our team, arm around each others soldiers
we waited and saw as Mirzapour made a save, Iran was up-could
it be possible that with the world against Iran and at all odds
would get to our rightful place in the finals?
that was not to be, we watched as Mobali struck the post, and then
Golmohammadi in the oddest penalty kick gave the ball to the Chinese
keeper, and with that it was over. A numbness I think struck us
all. I sat in a chair in the back and put hand in face; shocked
others too did the same, while some left to go outside. The emotions
of, bewilderment, anger and sadness could be felt all around. It
was over, Iran's run ended, and again we and the millions
of Iranians in Iran and around the world were crushed. So close
yet so far.
Through it all, I'd like to thank the core of Darya Kabob
that like myself put themselves at the disposal of watching team
melli play, who like me showed what it is to be a true fan of not
just Persian football, but Iran in general. To you guys, I thank
you, the camaraderie and brotherhood shown at this small kaboby
is but an icon of what it means to be Iranian.
As I finish
this piece, my soul exhausted, my mind perplexed, filled with
anger, rage and disappointment, I look forward to September
8th, where our team faces the biggest game of Iranian football
in recent history, if we don't beat Jordan in Amman, Iran
will not qualify to the World Cup 2006 to be held in Germany.
But before that time comes, I take this time to cool off, and hope
for better days for Iranian football and our nation in general.
Long Live Iran.