By Chris Wright
We’re slightly late on the uptake here, but hey ho.
Given the tempestuous build-up, Tuesday evening’s AFC World Cup qualifier between South Korea and Iran was never going to be pretty and it most certainly wasn’t, with the Iranians winning 1-0 to finish top of Group A in a match that ended with a whole heap of ugly. People, we’re talking Jamie Pollock-level ugliness here.
Allow us to fill you in. Back in October of last year, South Korea lost 1-0 to Iran in the reverse fixture amid a tempestuous game which was precipitated by a flurry of pre-match accusations from the South Korean camp – especially from coach Choi Kang-Hee – that Iran had deliberately made their stay in Tehran as uncomfortable as possible by organising sub-standard training and accommodation facilities as well as dragging their feet over organising Visas for their visitors.
Kang-Hee then vowed retribution by returning the favour when Iran came to town, saying that he wanted to “make life very painful” for them. “I remember being badly treated in Iran,” Kang-Hee told CNN. “The manners they showed were not good. They were not hospitable. Honestly, I dislike Iran.”
Skip forward eight months and the acrimonious Irani-Korean relations showed no sign of healing, with a photograph of Iran coach Carlos Queiroz with a “sad face” photo of Kang-Hee taped to the front of his shirt doing the rounds the day before the game – this coming a day after Hang-Hee has once again thrown shade in Iran’s direction by telling Queiroz that he “looked nervous” and would be “watching the World Cup live next year…live on his television!”
The game in Ulsan itself was a feisty old hoe-down, with Iran winning courtesy of a late goal from Reza Ghoochannejhad putting them top of the qualifying group and through to the World Cup for the first time since 2006.
Quieroz greeted the final whistle by rushing on to the pitch and directing a torrent of yelled insults and an unmistakable “up yours” gesture toward his opposite number…
Stay classy Carlos, stay classy.
Footage also later emerged of the Iranian ‘keeper taking a few choice jabs to the face from South Korea’s substitutes, though he certainly had it coming given that he chose to purposefully run through the South Korea bench to celebrate with his fans…
Stay classy all y’all!