The support for the Argentina football team in Bangladesh is beyond imagination and it's felt every four years when the FIFA World Cup is on. So when Argentina lost to Saudi Arabia in their opening fixture, at least half of the football fans in the country were stunned and silent.
But they got their voice back when Lionel Messi and Co. got back on track with two vital wins and made the round of 16 and later produced a brilliant performance to progress to the quarterfinals.
Recently, the FIFA and Argentine media praised Bangladeshi fans' passion for football. Argentina's manager Lionel Scaloni, ahead of their round of 16 game against Australia, attended the press conference and lauded the Bangladeshis for their overwhelming support for the Argentina football team.
Earlier, the Argentina football team played a friendly match against Nigeria at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka in September 2013 in front of a sell-out crowd.
But what happened over the last few days has been no short of extraordinary. On the eve of Bangladesh's much-anticipated ODI series against India, in an attempt to give something back, some Argentines created a group on Facebook, Fans argentinos de la selección de cricket de Bangladesh (Argentinian fans of the Bangladesh cricket team. Currently, there are 73000-plus members in that group and will surely increase.
Congratulatory messages and posts began to pour in after Mehidy Hasan Miraz struck the winning runs against India in the first ODI. The fans are knowledgeable as well, finding out who is there in the team, who is not, who is injured and everything. Some of them recorded videos of themselves to extend support to the team.
Now, cricket is not an unknown sport in Argentina. They made their first-class debut way back in 1912. MCC sides often toured that part of the world and played Argentine sides. They took part in several ICC trophies and met Bangladesh quite a few times along the way.
The ICC granted all the associate members T20 status in 2019 to globalise the game. The sport never really took off in South America but with a large number of Argentinians starting to follow the Bangladesh team, we might see a revival of cricket in Argentina.