THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As the world awaits for the sound of the whistle to kick off the planet’s greatest show in Rio De Janeiro, kilometers away, ardent football lovers in the city are also waiting with bated breath for the FIFA world cup all set to unfold on June 12. Even though, India is ranked at a lowly 147, the love for this beautiful game has always found hardcore followers in the city. The celebrations of a goal, the cries of a loss and the ecstasy of a win, will echo throughout the capital during the world cup season.
Fan clubs in the city are a common sight with Brazil and Argentina as the front runners. Supporters for the South American countries are also aplenty. “The FIFA World Cup is something that we have been waiting for months, and now it’s finally here. I’m a huge supporter of Argentina. Their attack is the best in the world, but they have to be a bit careful about their defence. But then eventually, they have to capitalise on Lionel Messi. He hasn’t been hitting the form recently. His performance will be the key to Argentina’s success. I’m hoping for a Argentina-Brazil Final. And defeating them in their home ground would be something to watch out for,” exults Sudheesh K P, secretary of a local Argentina fan club.
The South American rivalry has produced some epic battles in the past and the Pele-Maradona debates in the past fueled this rivalry. This rivalry is certain to ignite some sparks in the city during the World Cup.
“Some of my close friends are Argentina Supporters. While I root for Brazil some arguments are sure to come up. But then we love such verbal debates. Football for us is more than just a game and tournaments like the World Cup is like an adrenaline rush. There is no doubt that Brazil is going to win the world cup. When a team steps out into the roaring Maracana to face Brazil, they are sure to be intimidated. The fans are definitely going to be Brazil’s 12 squad, is out to prove a point. Players like Neymar, Hulk, Thiago Silva are integral to their campaign. It is going to be nerve wracking,” says an excited Anand Sankar.
The traveling European teams are bound to provide stiff competition to their South American counterparts. Teams like Spain, Germany, Netherlands and England are entering the World cup brimming with confidence. Spain, the defending champions, has an illustrious midfield with the likes of Iniesta, Xavi and Fabregas. While Germany filled with big names like Manuel Neuer, Mario Gotze, Philip Lahm among others will be upping their game after their semifinal exits in the previous two editions of the tournament.
“I have always been a Germany supporter, I feel they are very balanced as a team. People underestimate them but they always end up putting up a good show. I will be rooting for Germany in this world cup even though I like Argentina. Eventually, it is the game that matters, It will be such a treat to the eyes. The celebrations, the emotions. I cannot wait for it,” says Niranj Sudheer, a BCom student of Mar Ivanios college.
The football craze has not only affected the loyal fans but also people who don’t watch the game. Philip Mathew is one such person. “The football fever is spreading like wildfire and even people like me who do not ardently follow the game are excited just because of the hype created around it. Everywhere you go, football is the only language spoken. There is such a huge buzz around it. Naturally, I would also stay up late at night to watch these matches with my friends just to experience the frenzy,” says Philip.
It is no secret that the Samba fever has engulfed the city and come this June, images of the Mohanlal’s and the Modi’s will be replaced by the Ronaldo’s and the Rooney’s.