Iran Soccer

I know there are a lot of Persian people registered on, so I thought you might like an update on how the national soccer team is doing. After a disappointing and controversial 3rd place finish in the Asian Cup, Iran played Jordan in a do-or-die World Cup Qualifier on Wednsay. Jordan had beaten Iran 1-0 earlier in Tehran, and all they needed was a tie on their home field to eliminate rival Iran from World Cup contention.

Earlier in the day, the Prince of Jordan held his wedding ceremony, because the King was so confident in his country's victory on the soccer field that he wanted a "joint celebration" (in his own words) of his son's wedding and a win.

Naturally, Jordan played with 9 men back, because they surely did not need a goal. The strategy worked until the 81st minute, when Nikbakht, fresh off the bench, nailed a header from an impossible angle to give Iran a 1-0 lead. Afterwards, he ran to where the King and Prince were sitting on the side of the stadium, and gave them a left-handed salute, which I guess is a "**** you" in military terms.

The scope of the game changed after that, with Jordan sending all of their players forward in order to force a tie. However, in the 92nd minute, Ali Daei scored his world leading 98th international goal to seal the deal for Iran, 2-0. The win puts Iran in a first place itie with Jordan n their group, but Iran leads in goal differential. Wins in upcoming games against Qatar and Laos, which should be likely, will send Iran into the final round of qualifying for Germany 2006.

The game against Jordan was quite possibly one of the best games I have ever watched, given that so much was riding on this game, and given how much hatred there is between the two countries, on and off the field. In case anyone is interested, the following link is video of the two goals, including Nikbakht's "controversial" celebration (I say that because FIFA is said to be pondering handing down a punishment for unsportsmanlike conduct)

GO Iran!!
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