Football frenzy at its peak in Kerala as Argentina takes on France in Qatar

While entire Kerala is gripped with the football fever at Qatar, it has reached a crescendo in Malappuram district and other Northern parts of the state.

Malappuram and other northern districts of Kerala like Kozhikode, Kannur, Kasargod and Wayanad have several fan clubs that support Argentina and France.

Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe are household names in even the remotest areas of northern Kerala and fans are prepared for the victory of their respective teams. While France doesn’t have much of a fan base in this part of the world, the die-hard fans of Brazil and Portugal have thrown their weight behind, France.

Alavikutty, (47), a local footballer and a hardcore fan of Brazil who lives in Kondotty, Malappuram while speaking to IANS said, “Brazil is the team, it was hard luck for our team to lose out to Croatia even after a dream goal from Neymar Junior. However, we don’t want Messi to lift the cup and have thrown our support to Mbappe and France. It will be a repeat of France winning the world cup consecutively and the score will be 2-1 in favour of France.”

Argentina fans are in no mood to give up and in many parts of the state especially, North Kerala, the cutouts of Messi have come up.

Surjit Ram Nair (32), a medical representative in Kannur while speaking to IANS said, “The messiah is back and it’s Lionel Messi. He has lifted the morale of an Argentina team that lost to Saudi Arabia in the opener of this world cup and single-handedly transformed the team with his all-around performance on the field. We expect a tough game, but it will be Messi and Argentina who lift the cup and the score will be 2-0 in favour of our team.”

In Kerala, the fan base is shared between Argentina and Brazil and it is mostly due to the romance that Keralites have with the Latin American culture and their life and politics. With Communist parties having a major sway in Kerala, the support for the Latin American countries is a natural phenomenon. More than this the style of football played by both Brazil and Argentina is to likening of the people of Kerala.

Traditionally, Kerala is a state where football is a craze and the state has won the national football championship several times. The state has also produced some of the greats in Indian football like I.M. Vijayan, Joe Paul Alenchery, V.P. Sathyan, and Asif Zaheer.

In the state capital, a huge television screen is erected at the Jimmy George indoor stadium which has a seating capacity of more than 4,000 people. Entry to the indoor stadium is free and by 6 p.m. most of the seats get filled.

George Mathew, a businessman from Kawdiar, Thiruvananthapuram while speaking to IANS said, “Everybody has a television set at home, but watching the match in a group will be electrifying and hence I prefer to join the maddening crowd at the Jimmy George Indoor stadium here which is near to my home.”

With clubs and residence associations and political parties chipping in by erecting huge television screens in every corner, the state has almost turned into a place totally prepared for the iconic final to be played at Qatar on Sunday evening.

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