Asian Football Feast's Korean correspondent, Seungmin Lee, looks at the recent history between South Korea and Iran ahead of tonight's crucial AFC Asian Cup quarter final.
|Park Ji-sung scores against Iran|
It’s Iran again.
For South Korea, Iran is the team who always kill off the dream of winning the Asian Cup. When the final whistle went to signal South Korea’s 4-1 win over India, you could hear a big sigh from Korean football fans. Not because the result was underwhelming, but because it meant they will again face Iran at quarter final stage – for the fifth time in a row.
Since 1996, South Korea and Iran have developed a fierce rivalry like no other in Asian Cup. The very first meeting of two teams concluded with Iran registering a 6-2 smashing, causing South Korean gaffer Park Jong-hwan to resign.
Four years later, South Koreans exacted revenge against Iran by beating them 2-1. Lee Dong-guk scored the golden goal, which was the common rule adopted by competitions at that stage.
But, South Korea’s Iranian nightmare wasn’t over. In 2004, Iran enjoyed a thrilling 4-3 win against South Korea courtesy of an Ali Karimi hat-trick.
In the latest installment between the two teams, South Korea won via a penalty shootout, with Mehdi Mahdavikia and Rasoul Khatibi’s attempts denied by Lee Woon-jae, eliminating Iran from the tournament.
Regardless of the results, neither South Korea and Iran went on to win their next mach. Coincidentally, they finished in third place each time.
With both teams regarded as a strong contender for the title, the match will be an enthralling affair.
The games between the two nations are usually close affairs and according to the record, it seems like Iran’s turn this time. Fans in Korea are really looking forward to the match and as they say in Football - anything is possible.