Iranians on social media are coming to terms with their humbling football defeat by regional rival Bahrain last night.
Bahrain beat Iran 1-0 with a second-half penalty from Mohammed al-Hardan in the second round of Asian qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Iran is ranked 82 places higher than Bahrain in the FIFA world rankings and has around 80 times as many people
“Consistency and stability against Arab teams was the most important strength of the [Iranian] national team under [former coach Carlos] Queiroz, which is now gone after the loss against Bahrain. It appears [current coach Marc] Wilmots has a long way to go before becoming Queiroz,” tweeted Mohammad Taghavi, former Iran international and football pundit
Predictably, some Iranians directed their outrage at Bahraini fans, who reportedly whistled and booed the Iranian national anthem. Iran has already filed a complaint to FIFA against Bahrain for “disrespecting the Iranian national anthem and flag,” according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
The Iranian football pundit Masoud Eghbali added that the Bahrainis’ whistles had a negative psychological impact on the Iranian team.
Other Iranians blamed their own regime, pointing to Iran’s regional actions. “We too boo [the Iranian national anthem] whenever it is played, let alone them,” tweeted one user.
“This is nothing. You should expect worse in the game against Iraq,” said another tweet, referring to Iran’s forthcoming group game with top-of-the-table Iraq in Baghdad.
“Iran has always failed in Bahrain. Many congratulations on the win, you have made us all happy,” tweeted Kuwaiti journalist Mohammed Ahmad Almulla, referring to the fact that Iran has never been able to grab a win against Bahrain on Bahraini soil.