Thursday, February 9, 2023

Messi supporters in Asia celebrate Argentina’s victory

NEW DELHI ( Associated Press) — Ghazi Zahidul Haq had trouble hiding his nervousness ahead of the World Cup semifinal between Argentina and Croatia at Lusail Stadium in Qatar.

Haque followed the game from Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.

“This World Cup is important not only for Argentina but also for Messi,” Haq, a 35-year-old lawyer, said before the match. His voice was barely audible among thousands of people gathered behind him to watch the game on a giant screen at Dhaka University in the center of the capital.

It was midnight in Dhaka, and by the time the final whistle had blown and Argentina had thrashed Croatia 3-0, Haque’s worries were long forgotten. Argentina were in the World Cup final, one win away from winning soccer’s most important trophy.

The victory meant that Haque could see Messi, a player widely regarded as one of the best in the world, at the World Cup once again. The celebration has begun.

Fans took to the streets in Dhaka with Argentine flags and the colors of Albiceleste. They chanted Messi’s name to the sound of trumpets and hugged each other. Some danced and sang. A young man passed by in a rickshaw with a body painted in blue and white.

Argentina’s victory was also celebrated in neighboring India, where cricket is usually a game of religious fervour.

In the city of Calcutta, where there are also children named after footballers from other generations, Argentina fans marched through the streets singing songs in support of Messi’s team. It is a city where the walls are covered with murals of Argentine stars and the Argentinian flag flaunts from the balconies.

One of the greatest footballers and an icon to fans around the world since the time of Maradona, the Argentine has a huge fan following in Bangladesh and India. Thousands of people have come from both those countries to watch Messi and his team play in Qatar.

Seeing the overwhelming support in the South Asian country, the Argentine Federation addressed a message to Bangladeshis on social media this month.

“Thanks for supporting our team!! They are crazy like us!” the federation said in a tweet along with images of Bangladeshi fans with Argentina colours.

Those who are not in Qatar show up as their fans and follow the games devotedly from home.

In towns and cities in southern Kerala, where flags of Argentina and Brazil are seen on shops, buildings and poles, people have put up large figures of their favorite players, especially Messi and Neymar of Brazil. Towns have taken advantage of the open spaces used to show matches and thousands of people have turned up to watch them on big screens.

Argentina will face either France or Morocco in Sunday’s final. The excitement will reach its peak in India, and Aditya Sriram dreams of a fairy tale ending for Messi.

A 33-year-old digital marketer in New Delhi, Sriram has supported Argentina since the 1998 World Cup. He will play football as a child in the Indian capital after Sunday’s final with a group of about two dozen friends. ,

Sriram said Sunday’s game would allow Messi to cement his legacy as two of the best football players in history – Pele and Maradona – won the World Cup, a trophy the Argentina star has yet to achieve.

“This will accomplish it,” said Sri Rama. “If you don’t win the World Cup, you can’t be counted among the best of all time.”

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The Associated Press reporter Al-Amrun Garjan contributed from Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Nation World News Desk
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