Brazil fans turning Argentines courtesy Messi-magic

September 2nd, 2011 - 8:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Sep 2 (IANS) The city?s soccer fans whose loyalties are mostly split between Argentina and Brazil seem to have shifted their allegiance to the former — courtesy `Messi-magic? which is at its full glory.

Kolkata has been gripped with soccer fever especially for football?s latest demigod Lionel Messi who along with his Argentine teammates is in the city to play India?s first ever hosted FIFA international friendly match against Venezuela Friday.

As the date of the match approached, the streets of the city started getting resplendent with Argentine colours of sky blue and white with numerous flags, festoons, life-size cutouts of Messi strewn all over.

If the number of people sporting the Argentine jersey and the fluttering flags of the `Albicelestes? as the side is fondly called for their team colours, are an indication, the legion of Argentina fans has grown largely and surely includes Brazil fans.

The Kolkatans traditionally rooted for Brazil before the arrival of Diego Maradona and his heroics at the 1986 world cup which ensnared a large chunk of fans towards the Albicelestes.

In December 2008, when Maradona descended onto the city to meet and greet fans, a record 120,000 people turned out at the Salt Lake stadium to catch a glimpse of the star.

A large number of supporters mostly youngsters with their bodies and faces smeared in Argentina colours thronged the Salt Lake stadium, the venue of the match. The sound of vuvuzelas and chants of `Messi Messi? coming out of the stadium could be heard far away.

?I was a Brazil fan and a follower of Ronaldo and Ronaldinho. But now I am a Messi fan. He is the greatest,? said Debnarayan Banerjee who till recently claimed himself to be a die-hard Brazil fan.

Banerjee is not alone. There are many like him who have switched their loyalties towards Argentina. Many a nook and corner of the city and the state where TV sets had been put up for the fans to watch the match saw people cheering Messi and his teams.

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