Sleepless nights loom for fans in this area which has a rich tradition in the sport

When the Brazuca (official ball for World Cup 2014) is kicked at the Arena Corinthians, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, early on Friday, football fans world over will erupt with joy at the beginning of the biggest carnival of the world’s favourite sport. Small pockets in north Chennai too will echo with celebrations.

Banners and vinyl displays with famed names of the game have sprung up in parts of Tondiapet, Tiruvottiyur, Royapuram and Vyasarpadi. And the love for the game is not just evident on the roadside as celebrations will reach a crescendo by midnight with cake cuttings before the Brazil-Croatia clash, the first game of World Cup 2014. In some parts of football-crazy north Chennai, the game will be screened on large TV screens and projection systems.

North Chennai has always bustled with football fanfare with a good number of clubs. Many players from the region have represented the State and even the country for many decades. According to Parthasarathy Thulasi, coach of the ICF football team, who hails from Pulianthope, north Chennai has been synonymous with football as one can spot a game unfolding in most open grounds there. The football carnival once in four years is a gala time for fans here, he says.

Kalyanapuram in Vyasarpadi kickstarted the celebrations when youngsters, whose faces were painted with the colours of the countries they support, gathered at a playground to welcome the world cup.

Around 9 p.m., the fans, clad in jerseys gathered to welcome the event by cutting a cake. “The nail-biting games will mean sleepless nights for us. But it is a sweet feeling that we experience only once in four years. So no complaints,” a young supporter clad in Brazilian colours adds.

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