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Lionel Messi winning the World Cup is only ‘a matter of time’ | Qatar 2022 World Cup News


Doha, Qatar – When 18-year-old Abdur Rahman walked into Lusail Stadium ahead of Argentina’s quarter-final against the Netherlands on Friday night, he broke down. And at first sight Lionel Messi warm up on the field, his heart started pounding.

It has been Rahman’s biggest dream: to see Messi play since he first got acquainted with the biggest name of modern football in 2010.

“I started following Messi [on television] at the 2010 World Cup, when I was six,” Rahman told Al Jazeera, pausing to think. “I could never have imagined that one day I would be in the same stadium and breathe the same air with him.”

The engineering student from Bahrain said he had saved money for 6 months for this day. He had prepared a Messi t-shirt, an Argentine flag wrapped around his neck and painted on his cheeks, and the words “Oh Argentina Vamos” on his lips.

“I love the Argentina team and I feel like I am one of them so I learned their national anthems and practiced their celebrations,” Rahman said before standing up to wave and sing to thousands of Argentines. around him.

Argentina had some of the biggest backing inside the stadiums during this World Cup. That was part of the luck of the draw – they played most of their matches at Lusail Stadium, the tournament’s largest venue, which seats almost 89,000 people. But while most of their supporters have Messi’s name and the number 10 on their backs, they’re not from the same country or even the same continent.

Muhammad Adil and his beloved family Messi hail from Kerala, India. They landed in Qatar just hours before the quarter-final.

Adil and his three siblings, carrying a large Argentine flag, sat behind the goal. After more than two hours of intense competition with four goals, 17 yellow cards, one red card, a brawl on the field and a penalty shootout, Argentina won.

Brothers and sisters overjoyed.

Muhammad Adil (second from left) and his siblings from Kerala, India at Lusail Stadium on Friday, December 9, 2022 [Hafsa Adil]
Muhammad Adil (second from left) and his siblings from Kerala, India at Lusail Stadium [Hafsa Adil/Al Jazeera]

“Messi is my happiness,” Adil said with a grin. “It was amazing to see him from a few hundred meters away, and I will always keep this moment in my heart.” Adil and his family returned home hours after the game but said they would be cheering for Argentina from Kerala, a southern Indian state that Adil said was “crazy about football”.

In particular, South American football teams enjoy large fan bases in the state – as is the case across South Asia – and the World Cup is warmly welcomed.

But Messi’s appeal is not limited to a few parts of the world. It spreads across borders and unites strangers, and it manifests itself when Argentina’s place in the semi-finals is confirmed with Lautaro Martinez successfully takes the penalty on December 9th.

The strangers sitting next to each other jumped, high-fived and hugged as the stadium exploded in celebration. As Messi walked up to the fans with his arms raised, his fans bowed before him and chanted his name in unison.

Among them was Haopeng Wang, from China, who kept his head down until the 35-year-old soccer star returned to join his teammates. “Messi is my god,” Wang said, patting his chest rhythmically, as if to slow his heart rate down and make himself believe he wasn’t dreaming.

“He [Messi] made a great assist, and showed his magic,” the 22-year-old said, before raising his hand to say he was “too emotional to speak”.

Yasin, from Sudan, holds a sign that says this is just one "time problem" before Messi and Argentina won the World Cup (Hafsa Adil/Al Jazeera)
Yasin, from Sudan, holds a placard that says Messi and Argentina winning the World Cup is only ‘a matter of time’ [Hafsa Adil/Al Jazeera]

Skepticism gave way to raucous and passionate celebrations as fans left the stadium. The only title ever to fall from Argentina’s honored captain is now just two wins away and the meaning has not been lost for his fans.

A group of Bangladesh fans left the venue with the flags of their country and that of their hero. Their chants in Bengali are punctuated by Messi’s name. Fakhrul Islam, one of the fans, explained that they were singing, “Messi needs the World Cup and the World Cup needs Messi.”

“It’s a shame for football if Messi doesn’t win the World Cup in his career, and all our prayers are with him,” he added, raising his hands in prayer and looking up at the sky.

Others, like Yasin from Sudan, seem more confident that the Rosario-born icon will deliver Argentina’s third World Cup title. He says he traveled more than 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles) to see the “greatest ever” footballer and wouldn’t go home without seeing him lift the trophy champion.

As tens of thousands of spectators lined up for the exit of the stadium, Yasin stood still with a sage smile and a handmade sign in Spanish: “Messi is here, the World Cup is only a matter of time.” .

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