India is gearing up for a football extravaganza in 2024, as two of the most celebrated players in the world, Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria, are expected to grace the country with their presence. The Argentinian stars, who have won the World Cup in 2018, are scheduled to visit India as part of a friendly match between Argentina and India, which will be held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi.
The match, which is being organized by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and the Argentine Football Association (AFA), is a historic and prestigious event for both countries, as it will mark the 75th anniversary of India’s independence and the 50th anniversary of Argentina’s first World Cup triumph. The match is also aimed at promoting the sport in India and fostering the bilateral relations between the two nations.
However, the fans will have to wait a little longer to see their idols in action, as the match is dependent on the resolution of some logistical and scheduling issues. According to sports promoter Satadru Dutta, who was instrumental in bringing Argentina’s world cup winning goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez to Kolkata in July, Messi and Di Maria will arrive separately on different trips, and only after the general elections in 2024.
Dutta, who spoke to Times Now, revealed that he also plans to give them a tour of Bangladesh, which will have its elections in January 2024. “Di Maria will come first. That is the plan, and he will inaugurate a performance centre in Rishra. In Bangladesh, elections will be over in January, but we need to know the dates in India, so I am waiting for that,” he said.
Dutta also said that he had a non-disclosure agreement signed regarding Messi’s visit to India, and that finding the right window was just the first obstacle. He added that coordinating with organizers in India presented its own challenges, including security arrangements and ensuring adherence to Messi’s personal requirements and preferences, which required meticulous planning and execution.
The match, which is expected to attract a huge crowd of fans and media attention, will be a rare opportunity for Indian fans to witness the skills and talents of Messi and Di Maria, who have never played in India before. It will also be a chance for the Indian team to test themselves against one of the best teams in the world, who have reached three of the last four World Cup finals.
The AIFF and the AFA have expressed their excitement and gratitude for the match, which they hope will inspire the next generation of footballers in both countries. They have also assured that all the necessary precautions and protocols will be followed to ensure the safety and health of the players and the spectators amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The match is scheduled to take place on January 15, 2024, which coincides with the Indian Army Day. The tickets for the match will go on sale from October 2023, and are expected to sell out quickly. The match will also be broadcast live on various platforms, including WC Sports.