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Argentina and Mexico fans’ rivalry rocks Qatar

Argentina and Mexico fans' rivalry rocks Qatar

World Cup Qatar 2022 – Group C – Argentina v Mexico – Lusail Stadium, Lusail, Qatar – November 26, 2022 Argentina fan outside the stadium before the match

Argentina and Mexico fans lit up the World Cup on Saturday with their vast and vociferous followings creating a thunderous atmosphere in and around Qatar’s Lusail Stadium for the latest chapter in one of Latin America’s biggest football rivalries.

Thousands of flag-draped supporters of both sides have made the long journey to Qatar and been a lively presence at the Middle East’s first World Cup, organising street parties and teaching Spanish-language chants to Arab fans eager to join in.

“They are the craziest and the best! This is exactly what we were waiting for,” said Ibrahim Hussain, a Saudi Arabian wearing a Lionel Messi shirt, as he watched Argentines and Mexicans banter on the Doha seafront ahead of the match.

At the game, Argentina continued their hegemony, with Lionel Messi scoring the first goal in a 2-0 win that was their fourth victory over the Mexicans in the tournament’s history.

The resulted ignited Argentina’s fortunes, after a disastrous opening defeat by Saudi Arabia, while it left Mexico bottom of Group C with one game left.

“I don’t have a voice now,” said Ayman Kadi, a member of the Druze community in Israel, who was at his first World Cup and had in his pocket the Argentina kit he used to wear as a boy.

“Up in the stands things were crazy after that first goal. It cost me a lot of money to come for two days, but it’s worth it. I will never forget being here,” he said outside the stadium.

The rival fans shook the new, nearly 90,000-capacity Lusail Stadium like never before from long before kickoff.

Chanting songs at each other, the Mexicans donned Aztec warrior and Lucha Libre (freestyle) wrestling outfits, while the Argentines wore blue-and-white No 10 shirts for Messi and their late hero Diego Maradona.

Some paraded Arab headgear in national colours.

Armando Manco, a Mexican from Los Angeles, blamed the loss on Gerardo Martino’s second half substitutions.

“They left a space and if you give Messi space, he kills you,” he said, as Argentine fans stayed in the stadium long after the final whistle to sing.

“These guys feel like they are on top of the world, but they’re not. They’re not going to be a champion in this World Cup,” added Martino.

Argentina are a nemesis for Mexico, having also beaten them in all three previous World Cup encounters stretching back to a 6-3 win at the inaugural 1930 competition before last 16 victories in 2006 and 2010.

Though fans of both nations have drawn plenty of admiring attention – and endless selfies – in Qatar since the tournament started, the rivalry went too far earlier this week.

Social media videos showed Mexico fans provoking Argentines with insults over all-time top scorer Messi and their Falklands War defeat by Britain. That led to street brawling that left some fans bleeding and injured, according to footage and photos.

There were no reports of trouble on Saturday, however, as both sets of fans milled around Doha, from the seafront Corniche to the Souq Waqif market, before wending their way to the Lusail Stadium north of the capital where the final will also be held.

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