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Bangladesh v India 2022/23

Where Messi and Mehidy unite: The unexpected, heartwarming link between Argentinian football and Bangladeshi cricket

Abhishek Mukherjee by Abhishek Mukherjee
@ovshake42 3 minute read

Argentina and Bangladesh have little in common. Their capitals, Buenos Aires and Dhaka are 16,763 km apart. Yet, the pair have managed to form a sporting bond of late.

It was the 35th minute of the Round of 16 match in Al Rayyan, and Lionel Messi sprinted in from the corner. He tore through the Australian defence, scoring yet another characteristically brilliant goal to put Argentina in the lead. The fans celebrated in front of screens – despite the clock having ticked past half past one in the morning. They celebrated again, after the match, with little care of it being well past three…

No, the time is not a typographical error, for this was in Bangladesh, a country that has, over the years, emerged as a curious fanbase of Argentinian football. One of those inexplicable things. Diego Maradona winning hearts around the globe in the 1986 FIFA World Cup was not surprising, but that aura mostly faded away with Argentina’s drab football in 1990 and Maradona’s drug scandal in 1994. Except in Bangladesh, where they dedicatedly stuck to their favourite football side. And in Messi, they found a new hero.


The frenzy assumes incredible proportions during FIFA World Cups. The blue-and-white Argentinian flag is a common sight on the roads, as are fans donning the jerseys and giant posters of footballers on walls. In the age of social media, it was only a matter of time before the Argentinian media became aware of the frenzy. Snippets in Bengali, the national language of Bangladesh, began to make unexpected appearances in their tweets.

The Argentinian fans (in Argentina, not Bangladesh) went a step further. It is not clear whether Bangladesh’s FIFA (192nd) and ICC ODI (seventh) ranks convinced them to support Bangladesh in cricket, but that was what they did. A group, Fans argentinos de la selección de cricket de Bangladesh (Argentinian fans of the Bangladesh cricket team) appeared on Facebook. At the time of writing this, the membership count has stretched past 59,000.

As Mehidy Hasan Miraz pushed Bangladesh to a near-miraculous win against India in the first ODI, the fans cheered at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, and in front of their screens. The fans cheered in Bengali and English, and perhaps for the first time for a team outside the Spanish-speaking world, in Spanish.

It was only expected that congratulatory messages would pour in from Argentina – in Spanish, of course – once they pulled it off.

In Pak Bean, cricket had found the Cricketing Rivalry of 2022. They might have unearthed the most Friendship of the Year as well.

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