Messi-led Argentina likely to play two friendlies in Kerala in October 2025, says state Sports Minister V Abdurahiman

The minister stressed that the state was giving importance to the world champions training Kerala's talent pool.

ByMuhammed Fazil

Published Jan 19, 2024 | 1:38 PMUpdatedJan 19, 2024 | 5:15 PM

Abdurahiman India-Sri Lanka

Kerala Sports Minister V Abdurahiman said that the Argentina Football Association (AFA) has responded positively to a proposal to play exhibition matches in the southern state.

“We held a preliminary discussion with the Argentine officials regarding this. Further discussions will be done before finalising the dates,” Abdurahiman told South First on Friday, 19 January.

The minister stressed that the state was giving importance to the world champions training Kerala’s talent pool and the matches were just a part of it.

The Lionel Messi-led Argentinian side is expected in Kerala in October 2025.

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To train budding footballers

“We have discussed with them the prospect of training young football players from the state and they have approved it. They have also agreed to play two exhibition matches in Kerala next year,” added the minister.

Messi Kozhikode

A huge cut out of Lionel Messi planted by Argentina Fans Association of Pullavoor, Kozhikode, during the Qatar World Cup.

In the Facebook post in Malayalam, the minister said that Argentina accepted Kerala’s invitation, expressing their love for the state, turning Kerala into a blue ocean during the Qatar World Cup.

“Argentina has expressed its readiness for active cooperation in the field of football with Kerala. They have also shown interest in collaborating with the GOAL training scheme run by the Kerala government, aiming to train 5,000 children,” said Abdurahiman.

“Initially, it was announced that they would come to play in June 2024. However, due to the monsoon season at that time, it became difficult. Argentina has now announced its willingness to play in October 2025,” he added.

Accepting that organising this friendly match would be challenging, but the enthusiasm showed by Kerala people since the news broke served as a powerful motivator to move forward.

Possibility of a match against India

Meanwhile, Kerala Football Association President Nawaz Meeran hinted at the possibility of a match between the Indian National team and the Messi-led Argentina team.

“There would be two matches of Argentina in Kerala. One might be played against the Indian team,” Meeran told South First.

“The collaboration with AFA will help to develop the football in the state. They have agreed to share their training modules and techniques,” added him.

He also said that the matches will be most likely played in the Greenfield International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram and Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium in Kochi.

The Kochi stadium is the home ground of Kerala Blasters, the Indian Super League (ISL) team from the state. However, the Thiruvananthapuram stadium has never hosted any Football matches except two SAFF Championship matches in 2015, immediately after its inauguration.

Meeran was also hopeful of the government’s assurance regarding the development of other stadiums in the state, including the Manjeri Payyanad Stadium in Malappuram and EMS Stadium in Kozhikode — the home ground of I-League club Gokulam Kerala FC.

The discussion involved key figures such as Argentina National Team International Relations Head Pablo Diaz, State Sports Department Secretary Pranab Jyotinath IAS, and other representatives.