1. I think the above picture of Branko Ivankovic kissing the holy Quran is really sweet. The croatian Ivankovic--who I assume is not Muslim--has been coaching Iran's soccer team since 2002, and is here participating in a common Iranian goodbye/goodluck ritual of kissing the Holy Quran. The photo was taken on the occassion of the Iranian team's departure for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. (original photo is from ISNA)
2. An Iranian blogger has designed a set of Iran 2006 Cup merchandise. The designs featuring individual players are kind of cute, but I totally don't dig the main logo. It's too bad, because I would have liked to be an over-enthusiastic dorky soccer fan with a cool shirt. A dorky fan with a dorky shirt, well, that is too much even for me.
3. The kick-off time for Iran's first game at the Cup is June 11th at 18:00 local time (9:00 a.m. California Time). I'm nervous because Mexico is a very strong team (current FIFA ranking of 4). But I like them, so in the event of a loss, it wont be as a bitter as say, losing to France or the U.K. (my all time least-favorite teams).
Therefore: Viva Mexico and Zende bad Iran!