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Iran sets off World Cup journey along with Persian carpets

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

TEHRAN, June 3 (Xinhua) -- As Iranian football fans bid Tuesday farewell to their national football team on their conquest to the upcoming World cup in Brazil, they lined up to take photos, not with the players, but with two masterpiece Persian carpets.

The carpets are telling about Iran's ambition in the upcoming World Cup matches: friendship first.

One of them, framed into a tableau, says "I wish you all the luck in the world" in English right under a lifelike portrait of Lionel Messi, top star of Argentina, Iran's top opponent in the first round. It is also meant to be a gift to Messi.

National flags of all participating teams were knitted on the other rug, a golden silk carpet with intricate traditional patterns. Rugs of such fine quality and similar sizes can easily fetch over 100,000 U.S. dollars in the market, not to mention the collection value.

Iran's national football team flew with the pair of carpets to Brazil on Tuesday. Top-ranked in Asia, the team is still somewhat lackluster compared to the country's world-leading hand-woven carpet industry.

Absent of the famous star players of its predecessors, hopes for this team to enter the second round are not high among Iranian fans as they never achieved the goal in three previous attempts.

"If Iran can beat Argentina, I will shave my beard," said Milad, a football fan and university student in Tehran.

Iran is in Group F along with Nigeria, Argentina and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It will face Nigeria in its opening match on June 16 and then Argentina on June 21 and Bosnia and Herzegovina on June 25.

The participation in the World Cup can be a valuable experience for Iranian football, said Abolfazl Daliri, diehard fan of Spanish club Real Madrid.

"No problem if Iran cannot advance to the next round. What matters is Iran's team performs well and does not bring disgrace to us," he added.

But the players are confident. "I think our team is in good condition and very powerful. I hope to bring honor for our country, " said Andranik Teymourian, Iran's midfielder.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/xinhua-news-agency/140603/iran-sets-world-cup-journey-along-persian-carpets