Malappuram keen to ‘break new ground’ to host Messi-led Argentina team

Malappuram Gears Up for Historic Visit from Messi and Argentina Squad
Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring the opening goal of his team during the group D match between Argentina and Nigeria, at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg Stadium.
Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring the opening goal of his team during the group D match between Argentina and Nigeria, at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg Stadium.AP

MALLAPURAM : For the ‘Albiceleste’, Malappuram will feel like their own backyard, and district authorities are planning to pull all the stops in making the world champions feel at home.

The announcement by Sports Minister V Abdurahiman – through a Facebook post on Friday – that reigning Fifa World Cup winners, Argentina, led by their inspirational Lionel Messi, will play two games in the state in October 2025 has ignited immense excitement among football enthusiasts in the region.

The minister also disclosed that one of the matches will be played in Malappuram, prompting the sports department to initiate measures for building a new facility near the Malappuram District Sports Complex Stadium (Manjeri Payyanad Stadium) to host the match.

“We already have around 25 acres of land adjacent to Manjeri Payyanad Stadium earmarked for a new facility. Steps have been taken to ensure that the new stadium meets international standards, and the tendering process for its construction will commence within the next 50 days. This new stadium will not only host the Argentina match but also cater to national and international-level matches, while the Manjeri Payyanad Stadium will be dedicated to practice sessions,” said Abdurahiman.

Malappuram Sports Council president Anil Kumar expressed confidence that the stadium’s construction could be completed within a year, before the Argentine team arrives in the state in October 2025.

The Argentine Football Association (AFA) accepted our invite during an online meeting, the minister said. “The AFA also expressed interest in collaborating with the state government to promote football talent. The association will provide training to 5,000 children under the state government’s ‘Goal’ project,” he added. Football fans in the district are over the moon.

“If Argentina play in Malappuram, the new stadium will not be enough to accommodate all the spectators. The team enjoys a massive fan base in the district, with even young children refusing to part with jerseys emblazoned with Messi’s name. Seeing Messi in action is a dream for football fans, and we will be grateful to the government for organizing such a match in Malappuram,” said Kader Ali, a long-time organizer of sevens football in Malappuram and owner of Kader Muhammed Ali Sports Club.

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