With North Korea drawing Saudi Arabia, 0-0, Iran’s slim chances of qualifying for the World Cup ended. Earlier, they drew with South Korea, 1-1.
Iran went ahead in the 51st minute after Lee Woon Jae’s parry of Javed Nekounam’s dipping cross ricocheted off the body of the onrushing Masoud Shojaei straight into goal. Just when Iran looked like it would pull of an upset and keep their chances of qualifying alive, Man Utd’s Park Ji Sung bulled his way through the heart of the Iranian defense in the 80th minute to score the equalizer.
Both countries have witnessed tumultuous events recently.
Iran has been engulfed in a massive sea of green, with hundreds of thousands rallying this week against presidential elections widely perceived as rigged to help re-elect Mahmoud Ahmedinejad over the pro-reform candidate Mirhossein Mousavi. Six Iranian players donned green arm bands in solidarity with the protests including captain Mahdi Madhavikia.
Hundreds of thousands of grieving South Koreans donned yellow hats as they lined the streets to pay their last respects to ex-president Roh Moo-hyun who took his life. It is widely perceived that the Lee Myung-Bak government hounded Roh to his death with politically motivated bribery charges which were finally unproven. Thousands of Roh supporters have taken to the streets to protest the government and to demand Myung- Bak’s resignation.