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Kit Bag

World Cup qualifier: South Korea v Iran a grudge game

The National staff   |  June 17, 2013

Choi Kang-hee feels his South Korean side were badly treated on their trip to Iran. Karim Jaafar / AFP
Choi Kang-hee feels his South Korean side were badly treated on their trip to Iran. Karim Jaafar / AFP

A war of words between the coaches of Iran and South Korea has spiced up things between the Group A rivals as they bid to secure automatic qualifying spots for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The top two sides in the group clash in Ulsan on Tuesday, while Uzbekistan host Qatar looking for a big win to sneak in ahead of the Iranians in the final round of matches.

South Korea could take one of Group A’s two automatic berths even if they lose to Iran but coach Choi Kang-hee has ensured the clash will not lack intensity.

In comments that infuriated counterpart Carlos Queiroz, Choi said he wanted revenge for October’s 1-0 defeat in Tehran where his team were “badly treated”.

“The manners they showed were not good … they were not hospitable. Aside from who makes it to the World Cup, I would like to beat Iran no matter what,” Choi said. “Honestly, I dislike Iran more [than Uzbekistan]. I hope Uzbekistan make it to the World Cup.”

Choi’s comments did not go down well with Queiroz, who wanted an apology from the South Korean coach.

Carlos Queiroz has demanded the South Korean coach apologies to the Iranian people. Amin M Jamali / Getty Images

“Choi should apologise to the Iranian people,” the Portuguese said upon arrival in Seoul. “He said the Korean team was badly treated in Iran but we gave the best treatment available. He humiliated the Iranian citizens.”

The war of words escalated after the former Real Madrid coach accused the Koreans of not pushing harder for a bigger victory against the Uzbeks.

“I will buy an Uzbek uniform and give it to Choi as a present,” Queiroz said.

– Reuters