Fifa World Cup: Colombia may not be in Qatar but these fans are here to support all South American teams

Magic of the World Cup and Qatar has joyfully brought together three Colombian and Argentinian football enthusiasts

By Rituraj Borkakoty in Doha

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Argentina fan Damian (left) with Colombian siblings, Cristian (centre) and Paula. – Photo: Rituraj Borkakoty
Argentina fan Damian (left) with Colombian siblings, Cristian (centre) and Paula. – Photo: Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Tue 29 Nov 2022, 9:12 PM

Last updated: Tue 29 Nov 2022, 9:15 PM

There has always been a strong Argentina influence in Colombian football. Fernando Paternoster, an Argentine coach, was the first foreigner to manage the Colombian national team in 1938.

There was also a strong Argentina connection in Colombia’s World Cup debut in 1962 as it was Adolfo Pedernera, a legendary Argentine footballer, who coached the Colombian team and provided the inspiration from the dugout as the team qualified for the big event in Chile.

And now, it’s the love of football that has brought an Argentina fan, Damian, and two Colombian siblings, Cristian and Paula, to Qatar for the World Cup.

The Colombian team failed to qualify for this year’s event in Qatar and yet the two siblings were proudly wearing the Colombian jersey on the Doha Metro train on Tuesday, smiling and joking with Damian, their friend from Argentina.

Damian had never attended a World Cup event before. So when Cristian asked him if he could join them for the trip to Qatar, the die-hard Boca Juniors fan was delighted to organise the trip.

“I met Cristian in Australia when I was there to study English. We have been very good friends since then. I have returned to Argentina, and he has gone back to Colombia,” Damian said.

“We stayed in touch on Facebook and WhatsApp. So we were wondering if we could make this trip to Qatar for the World Cup. So we remained in touch and made all the arrangements and here we are now.”

Damian still could not get over Lionel Messi’s magical goal against Mexico in their crunch game on Saturday.

“It was special because it was my first World Cup match ever,” he said.

Unlike Damian, Cristian doesn’t have his Colombian national team to sing for at the World Cup.

But it’s the magic of a World Cup that appeals to him.

“Yes, my country is not in the World Cup, but we have come here to enjoy this festival of football and support the other South American teams,” he said.

“It’s the best place to meet people from so many different countries, it’s an amazingly nice event. That’s why I like this event.”

Despite his friendship with Damian, Cristian admitted to having a soft corner for Brazil, Argentina’s greatest rival in football.

“Our biggest support is for Ecuador and then Brazil,” he said.

“Argentina, yes, maybe,” he laughed.

“But, you know, Argentina is also a South American country. So we will support all South American countries. In fact, we wanted to watch Argentina and Brazil’s matches. But it’s impossible to get tickets for their matches.”

The Colombian siblings and Damian also visited Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Oman before arriving in Qatar for the World Cup.

While Damian could not stop admiring the ‘amazing’ Dubai, Cristian said he was mesmerised by the beautiful landscapes in Oman.

Finally, Cristian revealed which other country he is supporting in Qatar apart from the South American teams.

“I am also supporting Australia here in Qatar. I have lived there and I have wonderful memories,” he said.

“Australia is an amazing country because the people are so friendly. They have beautiful cities and beautiful beaches. I loved that country.

"And since I am here now for the World Cup, they are one of the teams that I am supporting.”

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