Before leaving North Carolina, several of my friends asked me to return with souvenirs for them. The Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Iran was the only place I was likely to find the Iranian flag requested by one of my poetry babes so that was my primary task this afternoon especially since the match itself did not appear promising given that Bosnia had already been eliminated and Iran needed a win and a Nigeria loss in order to even have a chance at qualifying for the knockout stage.
Of course even before the World Cup kicked off, this match was probably going to be one of the easiest tickets to get. That explains why we had the best seats in the house, right at midfield and just at the top of the tunnel so there was no one sitting in front of us. I gave my extra seat to my landlord, Alain, but this time he kept the seat and sent his girlfriend to the nosebleed section.
The only problem with these great seats at an unwanted match is that everybody came streaming down trying to find empty seats or just to have their picture taken close to the field. We had to keep shooing people away just to watch the match.
On the way to our seats I checked the closest souvenir stand but there were no Iran flags to be found. Since it was close to kick-off I planned to check the other two souvenir stands at halftime even though I would likely miss the beginning of the second half but with Bosnia dominating play and ahead 1-0, I didn’t think I’d miss much.
During my halftime wander I saw plenty of flags on fans worn as capes or skirts or scarves but none for sale. I even stopped one guy but we had no languages in common so I don’t think he understood. The best I could come up with was a refrigerator magnet with the word “Iran” on it and that just would not do.
After the match ended in disappointment for the Iranians, losing 3-1, I wasn’t sure how they’d feel about selling me one of their small flags but Alain is very extroverted so he was happy to talk with as many people as possible.
After a few rejections we found a young couple wearing flags on their heads as bandannas. I asked if they’d sell and how much and the young lady graciously gave hers to me thus ending the tale.
The four games tomorrow will decide who plays in my next match, the round of sixteen game between the winner of group H and the runner-up of group G. The runner-up of group G might very well be the U.S.A. which would mark the first time I’ve seen my native land play in a World Cup finals.
(More photos from the match in my Facebook album.)