WORLD CUP : PLAYER TO WATCH
Vahid Hashemian (Iran)
Vahid Hashemian, the Bundesliga-based striker, goes by the nickname Der Hubschrauber, or ‘The Helicopter’. Hashemian left Iran for Europe in 1999, joining Hamburg from Pas Club. In 2001/02, he moved on to Bochum. After a solid first season, he became something of a super-sub in 2002/03 as he scored ten goals in 34 appearances.
After just nine appearances with the Bayern Munich, he joined Hanover 96, where he has rediscovered his form. Hashemian burst onto international scene with Iran in a friendly against Kazakhstan in December 1998 and was part of the team that beat Kuwait in the final of 1998 Asian Games later that month.
Ali Karimi (Iran)
As a teenage hopeful in Iran, Ali Karimi enjoyed a meteoric rise. At the start of 1998, he was playing for Iranian second division side Fath, but by the end of the year, at the age of 20, he had become a household name. He heralded his arrival on the international football scene by inspiring Iran to gold at the Asian Games in Bangkok in December 1998. With his national side, Karimi had an unforgettable campaign in the 2004 AFC Asian Cup in China, where he emerged as the tournament’s joint-top scorer with five goals. A host of European clubs were in pursuit of Karimi in 2005, with Bayern Munich emerging at the head of the pack to clinch his signature.