SAO PAULO – The most unpopular game of the World Cup takes place on Wednesday, but the Brazilian public doesn't know what it's missing.
Sure, Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Iran isn't exactly Brazil vs. Argentina, but it is still a World Cup group game with tickets as cheap as $90 and pits a team fighting for credibility against one chasing an unexpected spot in the round of 16.
Yet due to the relatively low numbers of traveling supporters and the game's location – Salvador – the Group F finale matchup is the most unloved game of the tournament.
Less than 24 hours before Wednesday's kickoff (1 p.m. local time), tickets were still available in all sections of Arena Fonte Nova on the FIFA ticketing website, an unheard of scenario for a World Cup in which countless matches sold out quickly. It was the only remaining game where any seats in Category 3, the cheapest available, could still be purchased.
"I have a ticket but I can't go and I can't get rid of it," Salvador local Mauro Dantas told Yahoo Sports. "I can't understand it. It is not the best game of the World Cup but no one is interested."
Bosnia-Herzegovina is playing in its first World Cup but does not enjoy the same volume of traveling fans as other European nations – and understandably so. The country with a population of a little less than four million does not possess the wealth of the likes of England, Germany, Italy or Spain, which all boast wide-scale support even with the tournament being held far from home.
Bosnia-Herzegovina is a fine team that is unlucky to have been eliminated from contention so quickly. The Bosnians put in a decent showing in their opening game against Argentina, but their dreams were dashed in a controversial 1-0 defeat to Nigeria. Star striker Edin Dzeko was dismayed to have his early goal disallowed and called the performance of referee Peter O'Leary "shameful."
The Iranians have also not had much fan support in Brazil due to the high prices in airline tickets from the Middle East to South America. Iran has yet to score in this World Cup but it still has a chance to reach the knockout stage if it beats Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nigeria loses to Argentina and it wins a tiebreaker with the Nigerians.
"There is also not as much support for the national team as there used to be," Iranian journalist Behrooz Afrakhan said. "People didn't expect much from them."
The northeast city of Salvador is a further impediment. Flights to the Bahia state capital from Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are generally higher than those to other World Cup cities such as Belo Horizonte or Brasilia.
A traffic mixup outside Arena Fonte Nova before Spain vs. Netherlands on the tournament's second day saw countless stadium seats left unattended. It was a sorry sight at such a high-profile match.
A FIFA official told Yahoo Sports that exact ticket sales for Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Iran were not available but did say that a significant number of tickets remained unsold Tuesday afternoon.
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