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  Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 10:40 GMT
Iran learn the hard way
Iran fans cheer on their team
Iranian fans saw their team defeated
Iran's youngsters learn some harsh lessons in World Football's Asian Action...

Iran's future generation of international stars got an invaluable, if unpleasant lesson about the harsh realities of international football when they took part in Hong Kong's annual Lunar New Year tournament - that South Americans play hardball.

Having defeated Denmark's 'League National Team' 1-0 in the opening match, Iran faced an equally young Uruguayan team in a final that saw two players sent off as the inexperienced Hong Kong referee lost control of the game.
Uruguay have a history of indiscipline
Uruguay have a history of indiscipline

For the record Iran lost on penalties, after extra-time failed to break a 1-1 deadlock, but the game exploded shortly after Fabian Estyanoff equalised Ali Samereh's 30th minute volley with six minutes to play.

Horacio Peralto lashed out at Iranian wing-back Alireza Vahidinikbakht, sparking a bench-clearing brawl that involved players, substitutes, officials, coaches and stadium security.

"He (Peralta) did a scissors kick with my head. Then they grabbed the referee's shirt and told him to be quiet.

"The number two (Diego Lugano) came and spat in my face at one point, and then afterwards he sent me a message in the hotel to come out and fight. They were beyond dirty," said a disgusted Vahedinikbakht.

Meanwhile Iranian centre-half Mohammad Nosrati complained that he was attacked outside the changing rooms before the start of the second period.

"During half-time in the tunnel the number 21 (Horacio Peralta) attacked me and punched me," alleged the Pas defender, adding that if the trip was meant to educate Iran's younger players about football in different parts of the world it worked.

"For that it was a very good experience. In Iran we used to hear that the South Americans - teams like Argentina and Uruguay - were very rough. Now we know it's true."


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