Taiwanese fans show love for Messi as Argentina's World Cup kicks off

11/22/2022 07:46 PM
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Actor and singer Kunda Hsieh wears Lionel Messi
Actor and singer Kunda Hsieh wears Lionel Messi's jersey. CNA photo Nov. 22, 2022

Taipei, Nov. 22 (CNA) Taiwanese football fans spilled onto the street in one of Taipei's trendy commercial districts Tuesday, showing support for one of the greatest football players of all time, Lionel Messi, as Argentina prepares to take on Saudi Arabia at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup marks Messi's fifth, and most likely the last, attempt to lift the trophy.

The Argentine striker, who is the highest goal scorer in the history of La Liga, the men's top professional football division in Spain, has played in four World Cups, coming closest to lifting the trophy when Argentina lost in the final to Germany 1-0 at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Messi's ambition to lead Argentina to World Cup glory is supported by many Taiwanese football fans as he prepares to take to the field against Saudi Arabia in his first game at the event this year.

Actor and singer Kunda Hsieh (謝坤達), a former member of Taiwanese boy band Energy, supported Messi by wearing his Argentine national team jersey during a World Cup promotional event held in the pedestrian mall outside Vie Show Cinemas.

Kunda Hsieh. CNA photo Nov. 22, 2022
Kunda Hsieh. CNA photo Nov. 22, 2022
Taiwanese fans take photos with an Argentina national soccer team installation in Taipei. CNA photo Nov. 22, 2022
Taiwanese fans take photos with an Argentina national soccer team installation in Taipei. CNA photo Nov. 22, 2022

"I really hope he achieves his dream this year," Hsieh said. "I hope he can once again reach the top."

Hsieh was speaking at a World Cup pop-up installation that resembled the Argentine locker room, including photos of Messi and his jersey.

Also wearing an Argentine national team jersey was a 21-year-old student, surnamed Chen (陳), who was out with her friend to support Messi.

"I really hope he can still play in the World Cup in four years," Chen told CNA. "He is a very good player and has very good form, even though his attack is not as strong as it used to, he still plays a very important role for the team."

Another Messi supporter, a 25-year-old tour guide, who wanted to be identified by his English name Jerry Lee, told CNA he is a little worried because the 35-year-old striker did not turn up to practice yesterday.

Taiwanese soccer fan Jerry Lee. CNA photo Nov. 22, 2022
Taiwanese soccer fan Jerry Lee. CNA photo Nov. 22, 2022
A Taiwanese soccer fan wears an Argentina national soccer team jersey. CNA photo Nov. 22, 2022
A Taiwanese soccer fan wears an Argentina national soccer team jersey. CNA photo Nov. 22, 2022

"Understandably with his age and still being able to play already makes me very happy," Lee said. "But I still hope to see more of him on the pitch."

Both Chen and Lee were attending a free live public viewing of Argentina and Saudi Arabia's Group C clash on a giant screen outside the Chunghwa Telecom service center near the Taipei 101 building.

A soccer fan takes a shot at a goal shooting target. CNA photo Nov. 22, 2022
A soccer fan takes a shot at a goal shooting target. CNA photo Nov. 22, 2022

The viewing was organized by the Taiwanese telecom service provider to promote the World Cup, which has excited football fans in Taipei over the past few days, with packed out sports bars and pubs since the opening game on Nov. 20.

Su Tian-cai (蘇添財), head of Chunghwa Telecom's Consumer Business Group, said at a speech before the viewing that Argentina has a very good chance of winning this year.

"And this is likely to be Messi's last World Cup, so I think streaming this match here for everyone is a very good idea," Su said.

To celebrate the games, Chunghwa Telecom has also set up a goal shooting target for people to win prizes, adding to the excitement and enthusiasm of one of the most watched sporting events in the world.

The event in Qatar is the 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup, which kicked off in the winter in the Northern Hemisphere instead of the summer for the first time since the tournament's inauguration in 1930.

(By William Yen)

Enditem/AW

Soccer fans pose for photos in front of the giant screen before the Argentina and Saudi Arabia match. CNA photo Nov. 22, 2022
Soccer fans pose for photos in front of the giant screen before the Argentina and Saudi Arabia match. CNA photo Nov. 22, 2022
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