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World Cup fever sweeps Kolkata

People have painted themselves in the colours of Brazil and Argentina and miniature stadiums have sprung up in city, as World Cup mania sweeps Kolkata - the football-mad city of cricket-crazy India.

sports Updated: Jun 11, 2010 21:00 IST

People have painted themselves in the colours of Brazil and Argentina and miniature stadiums have sprung up in city, as World Cup mania sweeps Kolkata - the football-mad city of cricket-crazy India.

From Shyambazar in the north to Nakatala in the south, flags of the 32 nations participating in the greatest soccer show on earth flutter from the rooftops and tall lightposts, as the citizens made hectic preparations to watch the games huddled together before community television sets.

"It is a great moment again. We will watch the first match together, go home and come back after dinner to watch the midnight games," said Ashok Das, a college student.

"During the semi-finals and the final, we will have picnics," said the 20-year-old Das, an avid supporter of soccer powerhouse Brazil.

The Samba magicians, known for weaving patterns on the field with deft touches and mindboggling skills, have been an eternal favourite with Kolkatans, and 2010 is no exception.

At Harish Mukherjee Road in South Kolkata, giant portraits of Brazilian stars like Kaka and Robinho adorn the walls. "I would have loved to draw more such portraits. But there is no more space," said painter Ajay Kar.

At Ganguly Bagan in the city's southern fringes, small clay replicas of members of the 32 teams have been made by enthusiastic youths. A gallery adds to the simulated view of a soccer stadium.

Though Brazil draws the maximum number of followers in this city, Argentina is not lagging behind. "This time, the support for Argentina is more as they are being coached by the great Maradona, whom Kolkatans have always loved," said former Olympian Samar (Bardu) Banerjee.

Maradona, in fact, visited Kolkata in Dec, 2008, drawing large crowds everywhere he went.