Fifa World Cup turns Malir village into 'football wonderland'.

KARACHI -- As the FIFA World Cup kicks off in Al Khor's Al-Bayt Stadium on Sunday, there will also be fireworks going off above the Gul Baloch Football Ground in Siddiq Village as the Baloch residents of this little Malir neighbourhood perform traditional dances.

As has been happening every four years here, the place is already wearing a festive look, literally. The walls have been whitewashed for the village's two artists to paint the faces of the most popular players and flags of all the nations playing in the mega event, though there seems to be a particular fondness for Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Italy and Portugal here.

The Gul Baloch Football Ground is owned by the Gul Baloch Football Club. There is a big screen installed in the ground to screen the World Cup matches. 'During the Uefa Europa League, we put up a screen on the top floor of our club building but this is the World Cup so we are expecting a bigger crowd,' says Rashid Abdul Razzak, who owns the Gul Baloch club.

The club has played a big role in fueling football talent among the local youth. Bilal Baloch, an under-18 player from here, now plays for Bremen City in Germany. Two more locals, Pir Baksh and Waseem Mohammad are playing in football clubs in Iran while another youngster, Yaseen Baloch, plays for Karachi United.

Narrow lanes and houses are decorated with participating teams' flags and buntings, as if Siddiq village hosts the matches

Razzak says that you encounter unique individuals, all great football fans, in Siddiq Village. There is Ghulam Murtaza, a fitness enthusiast, whose favourite football team happens to be Germany, and he has learnt the German language, too. The house he lives in is called German House and its entrance is covered with the German flag. Another person who speaks Italian has Italy as his favourite team. You also run into Maqdoom Murad Baloch, a rap artist, who raps about his favourite teams.

BUNTINGS of flags from teams competing in Fifa Cup adorn a lane in the village.-White Star

And there is the famous samosa and pakora seller, Mama Brazil, too, here, who after closing his little shack now sells from a pushcart. In the morning...

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