Now I'm not one of these girls who pretends to know anything about football but having grown up as a British-Iranian in the UK with an older brother and father who followed the sport I had no choice but to revel in both English Premiership Football and follow (admittedly less often lately) the progress of my local team and the English national team.
Since the last world cup that Iran qualified for I have been an ardent supporter of “Team Melli” and feel that they truly are something to be proud of. Nothing can lift the spirits of the general Iranian population (both inside and outside of Iran) as much as Iran winning on the International stage at a sport watched by millions. After all we all remember that “oh so sweet” time when we beat the USA in 1998 and what fantastic emotions were stirred up amongst even non-football watching Iranians.
This time, I feel, is different. Not only do we seem to have better chances with the combination a new generation of eager and hungry players with the experienced and wise “feet” but it seems that all Iranians everywhere are rooting for the win. Every single day I seem to come across yet another “Vatan-loving”, “pro-Team Melli” world cup inspired song.
And although some are better than others (read : much better than others). They all demonstrate the point that everyone wants to show their support in some way. For the record my personal favourites have to be Arash's “Iran Iran” and Arian Band's “Pish ta payan” as they are upbeat and inspiring though I am sure there are even more out there which I am yet to hear for myself.
Getting back to the point, I have just finished watching the impressive comeback of Iran from a 0-2 start to a 5-2 win in Tehran's Azadi Stadium against Bosnia and after this and the pretty okay start against Croatia in the friendlies I think I and many other Iranians worldwide are really looking forward to the real matches.
This match demonstrated that even without 3 of the key players (Mahdivikia, Karimi and Zandi were not played) we still managed to get a win and although the start was shaky and our defence looked to be a little more than scattered to say the least we still had the strength to fight back and retrieve what the commentators themselves called a “game that was lost initially”. This is the stuff of dreams, and echoes those brilliant teams which historically have come back from defeat like the legendary Phoenix from the flames.
I won't go into the details as I'm sure others will do a better job of it but it was a wonderful game to watch with great performances from Daei, Madanchi and Rezaei to name but a few. Branko Ivankovic seems to have been good thus far (though I have my fingers crossed that he has a better plan for our defence!)
Here I come with a suggestion. And I hope that someone can action it somehow. As you may be aware most of Team Melli's players are based in Iranian teams and the more talented few that have been spotted (and arguably the better players) have been whisked off to European teams and (hopefully) enjoy the lifestyles and luxuries afforded by playing in high level football leagues that goes with it. I guess this could be seen as an incentive for all the players to show their skills as best they can as it's the perfect stage for self promotion in reality.
Some might argue that the nation's hopes and players personal pride should pave the psychological path to success but I think that something extra might just tip the balance in Iran's favour. How about a promise of a lovely new E-class Mercedes Benz (yes the very type that will be built in Iran as of September owing to the deal between Iran Khodro diesel and Daimler-Chrysler — so no excuses!).
We all know that every Iranian loves their Mercedes and what better incentive to play well than to receive a brand spanking new car. Hell, I'm a girl and haven't played football since I was 9 years old but if there was the promise of a prize for good performance (say, scoring a goal or consistent great defending) you can bet your bottom dollar I would be chasing down every last ball for all 90 minutes and more!
Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting a “bribe”, just a little helping hand … if I had the finance to fund such an initiative I would … because more than anything I want Iran to win. Not only for me and the football-following crowds but to lift every Iranian (even my mother who normally doesn't enjoy watching football is excited by the thought of Iran succeeding in this quest and is not only visibly affected by the outcomes during matches but like me glued to the tv all through). So come on, all you wealthy Iranians out there who claim to love Iran, put your money where your mouth is and give Team Melli a little booster. You would be doing us all a favour !!