Messi fans overjoyed in south Asia after Argentina semi win

Dec 13, 2022, 10:55 AM | Updated: Dec 14, 2022, 1:35 am
People buy grocery from a shop next to a garlanded photograph of Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo put u...

People buy grocery from a shop next to a garlanded photograph of Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo put up by fans to mark the ongoing soccer World Cup in Kolkata, India, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

(AP Photo/Bikas Das)

              People buy grocery from a shop next to a garlanded photograph of Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo put up by fans to mark the ongoing soccer World Cup in Kolkata, India, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              Indian fans of Argentina Football Fan Club gather to watch in Kolkata, India, the World Cup semi final soccer match between Argentina and Croatia in Qatar, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022. Argentina defeated Croatia 3-0. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              People walk through a street decorated with Brazil's Neymar along with flags of Argentina and Brazil to mark the ongoing soccer World Cup in Kolkata, India, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              Bangladeshi fans of Argentina cheer as they watch on a big screen in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the World Cup semi final soccer match between Argentina and Croatia in Qatar, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022. Argentina defeated Croatia 3-0. (AP Photo/Mahmud Hossain Opu)
            
              Indian fans of Argentina cheer for their team's victory as they watch in Kolkata, India, the World Cup semi final soccer match between Argentina and Croatia in Qatar, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022. Argentina defeated Croatia 3-0. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              Members of Students Federation of India shout slogans during a friendship and harmony march to celebrate ongoing soccer world cup in Qatar,  in Kolkata, India, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              Argentina's Lionel Messi reacts after winning the World Cup semifinal soccer match between Argentina and Croatia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
            
              A car passes a poster of Argentina's Leonel Messi, erected by the Indian fans of Argentina during the World Cup semi final soccer match between Argentina and Croatia in Qatar, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022. Argentina defeated Croatia 3-0. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

NEW DELHI (AP) — Soccer fan Gazi Jahidul Haque was struggling to hide his concern before the Argentina and Croatia World Cup semifinal at Qatar’s Lusail Stadium.

Haque was watching the game in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.

“This World Cup is not only important for Argentina, but also for Messi,” 35-year-old lawyer Haque said before the game, his voice barely audible as thousands behind him thronged to watch the match in front of a giant television screen at the University of Dhaka in the capital’s center.

It was midnight Wednesday in Dhaka and by the time the final whistle blew with Argentina beating Croatia 3-0, Haque’s worries had long dissipated. Argentina was in the World Cup final, one win away from capturing the game’s greatest prize.

The win meant Haque would get to see Messi — a player widely regarded as one of the game’s best – one more time at the World Cup. The celebrations began.

Fans poured onto the streets in Dhaka waving Argentina flags and wearing the team’s sky blue and white jersey. Amid blaring trumpets, they chanted Messi’s name and hugged each other. Some held motorbike rallies. Others broke into song and dance. A young man rode on a rikshaw, his body painted in Argentinian colors.

Argentina’s win was also celebrated in neighboring India, where it is cricket that is typically worshipped with near-religious fervor.

In Kolkata city, where children are also named after football players from previous generations, Argentina fans marched in streets chanting songs for Messi’s team. It’s a city where murals of Messi adorn the walls and Argentinian flags peek out of balconies with homes advertising their support.

Argentina has a legion of passionate super fans in Bangladesh and India since the days of Maradona, one of the greatest to play the game and an icon to fans around the world. Already, thousands of them have traveled to Qatar to see Messi and his team play.

Seeing its team getting massive support from the south Asian country, Argentina’s soccer federation earlier this month praised Bangladeshis on social media.

“Thank you for supporting our team. You are as crazy as we are!” the federation said in a Twitter post with photos showing Bangladeshi fans wearing Argentina’s jersey.

Those who aren’t in Qatar are displaying their allegiance by following the games with utmost devotion at home.

In southern Kerala’s coastal towns and villages, where flags of Argentina and Brazil are strung across shops, buildings and flagpoles, people have erected huge foam-board cutouts of their favorite players. Messi — and Brazil’s Neymar — are the favorites. In villages, open spaces have been used for match screenings, with thousands flocking to watch the games on giant screens.

On Sunday, Argentina will meet with either France or Morocco in the final. The fervor would reach its peak in India, and Aditya Shriram is waiting for a fairytale swan song for Messi.

Shriram, a 33-year-old digital marketer in New Delhi, has been supporting Argentina since the 1998 World Cup. On Sunday, he will be watching the final with a group of nearly two dozen friends he grew up with playing soccer in the Indian capital.

Shriram said Sunday’s game will have Messi play to seal his legacy, considering the greatest of all time — Pele and Maradona — have both won the World Cup, an accolade that had so far evaded the Argentinian superstar.

“It’ll complete him,” Shriram said. “Unless you win the World Cup, you can’t be counted among the absolute greatest of all time.”

___

Associated Press writer AL-Emrun Garjon contributed from Dhaka, Bangladesh.

___

AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Belgian police seize $1.6 million in sex trafficking probe

BRUSSELS (AP) — About 1.5 million euros ($1.6 million) in cash were seized during raids in Belgium targeting an alleged criminal organization suspected of sending Chinese women to Europe and forcing them into prostitution, the federal prosecutor’s office said Wednesday. In addition, investigators took hold of four tons of coins with an unspecified value, prosecutors […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Blaze at US drone plant in Latvia; arson not suspected

HELSINKI (AP) — Firefighters worked for a second day Wednesday to fully extinguish a blaze at a U.S. company’s drone plant in Latvia. Local police said nothing had been found so far to indicate sabotage. Latvia’s State Fire and Rescue Service was alerted Tuesday afternoon that a fire had broken out at Edge Autonomy’s drone […]
1 day ago
FILE - The Activision Blizzard Booth during the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, June ...
Associated Press

UK watchdog says Microsoft’s Activision deal hurts gamers

LONDON (AP) — Microsoft’s stalled $68.7 billion deal to buy video game company Activision Blizzard has hit a fresh hurdle in the United Kingdom, where the antitrust watchdog said Wednesday that it will stifle competition and hurt gamers. Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority said its in-depth investigation found that the deal could strengthen Microsoft’s position […]
1 day ago
People walk past St. John's Baptistery, one of the oldest churches in Florence, central Italy, Tues...
Associated Press

Visitors can see Florence Baptistry mosaics up close

FLORENCE, Italy (AP) — Visitors to one of Florence’s most iconic monuments — the Baptistry of San Giovanni, opposite the city’s Duomo — are getting a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see its ceiling mosaics up close thanks to an innovative approach to a planned restoration effort. Rather than limit the public’s access during the six-year cleaning […]
1 day ago
Volunteers distribute aid to people in Antakya, southern Turkey, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023. Thinly st...
Associated Press

Live Updates | Turkey, Syria quake is deadliest in decade

The catastrophic earthquake that razed thousands of buildings in Turkey and Syria became one of the deadliest quakes worldwide in more than a decade Wednesday and the death toll kept rising, surpassing 11,000. Rescue crews braved freezing overnight temperatures in quake-hit areas in both countries in hopes of reaching more survivors and to pull more […]
1 day ago
FILE - The Container ship Cam Cgm Arctic (MT) is moored at Maersk APM Terminals Pacific, Pier 400, ...
Associated Press

Shipper Maersk reports most profitable year, warns of drop

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The world’s biggest shipper, Denmark’s A.P. Moeller-Maersk, said Wednesday that 2022 was its most profitable year in “the history of the company” but warned that a plunge in container volumes and freight rates would lead to a drop in earnings this year. Full-year revenue increased by 32%, to $81.5 billion from […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Messi fans overjoyed in south Asia after Argentina semi win