Brazil storms into quarters, Asian teams bite the dust; mixed reactions from football lovers in Kolkata

Al Rayyan:Brazil’s Neymar, and South Korea’s Hwang Hwang vie for the ball during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Brazil and South Korea, at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Monday, Dec. 5, 2022.(Photo:Suman Chattopadhyay/IANS)

Kolkata, Dec 6 (IANS) It was a mixed bag for football lovers in Kolkata till the early hours of Tuesday. While Brazil fans cheered lustily till after 3 am on Tuesday after Neymar Jr’s team trounced South Korea 4-1 to storm into the quarterfinals of the ongoing Football World Cup Finals in Qatar, some like Soumya Saha lamented the exit of all Asian teams from the tournament.

“I am a Brazil fan and rooted for my team till the last. I knew that it would be a tough ask from South Korea to beat Brazil in the round of 16. However, I had expected a better performance from Japan. I would have loved to see an Asian team in the quarterfinals. Unfortunately, after holding Croatia to a 1-1 draw for over 120 minutes, Japan fared miserably in the penalty shootout,” Saha said.

Football fans in Kolkata and local clubs primarily root for Brazil or Argentina during international meets like the Football World Cup. There are personal favourites such as Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal but there is no wholehearted support for the team.

The Football World Cup Finals this year led to some initial hiccups with Argentina losing the first match of the tournament. Fans in Kolkata would have been devastated had the team not come back strongly and entered the quarterfinals where it will face the Netherlands on Friday.

“Argentina always has a shaky start. But the team manages to regain its composure thereafter. We are rooting for the team and Lionel Messi. However, given the kind of start the Asian teams made this year, we would have loved to see at least one team in the semifinals. Japan was simply out of focus on Monday or they could have beaten Croatia. Frankly, I didn’t hold out too much hope for South Korea though I would have loved to see Brazil lose,” Debasish Majumdar, a hardcore Argentine fan, said with a wink.

Several football lovers in Kolkata are staying up well past midnight to watch the World Cup matches. Doctors have cautioned that such activity can lead to health issues but not many are in the mood to listen. For most Bengalis (as well as several non-Bengalis in Kolkata), the Football World Cup Finals are not something to be missed. Now that the semi-finals are scheduled to start, the football fever in the city will shoot up.

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