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World Cup 2014: Who are you supporting?

With Algeria and Iran ready to show off their style in the 2014 World Cup, football fever spreads among region's fans
Algeria warms up on a pitch in Brazil on the eve of World Cup 2014 (AFP)

As World Cup 2014 kicks off on Thursday in Brazil, football fans in the Middle East are gearing up for the event featuring two teams from the region.

Algeria and Iran will both contend for glory this summer in Rio de Janeiro, with Iran kicking off against Nigeria on Monday 16 June, quickly followed by Algeria vs Belgium on Tuesday 17 June.

From some employers in the Gulf worried that their staff may fall ill to extreme body painting and catchy tune making, MEE takes a look at the contagious World Cup fever so far.

The songs

Both Algeria and Iran have released objectively addictive World Cup anthems ahead of the competition.

Iran’s number is by London-based Ajam, which mixes traditional Persian tunes with elements of electronica and rap:

Algeria also has an infectious offering:

The players

Algeria’s star player is Foued Kadir, an attacking midfielder who apparently considered quitting football at the age of 18 to join the police force. Fast forward to 2013 and a 29-year old Kadir transferred to Olympique de Marseilles for a fee of €500,000.

Topping the bill for Iran is Reza Ghoochannejhad, nicknamed Gucci, a 26-year old forward. A popular figure in Iran,media reported that he “put the country in paradise” after scoring the winning goals in Iran’s qualifiers against Qatar and South Korea.

The fans

As well as from the fans back home, Algeria’s team is also garnering widespread support from nearby Egypt, with many announcing their backing for their North African neighbour.

Translation: #Support_Algeria: The song We Are One as a dedication from the Egyptian people to the Algerian people on the occasion of the World Cup

Translation: #Support_Algeria: We’re all behind you in the World Cup. Viva Algeria 1,2,3. [The poster reads: I am from Egypt but I love Algeria]

Translation: I’m gonna support Algeria because it’s the only Arab country that has got through so far. And obviously I’ll support Spain and Germany too 

Some Egyptian supporters have started a campaign called “Support Algeria” to show their love for the neighbours’ team, taking pictures of themselves holding a sign reading “Support Algeria” in famous locations in Egypt.

Translation: CBC: Egyptian supporters start a campaign with the title #Supprt_Algeria to show their support in the World Cup

Egypt is far from the only country harbouring support for Algeria.

Fans from Lebanon and Palestine are throwing their weight behind Algeria, which has competed in the 1982, 1986 and 2010 World Cups.  

Translation: After Brazil, I’m supporting the only Arab team taking part in the World Cup, Algeria #Support_Algeria

Hend Abu Shanab, a young Palestinian football devotee studying in Nablus, wrote in to MEE:

“I'm very excited, not for the first rounds of course, though there will be some really good matches! I will be supporting Argentina of course! And Algeria because they're the only Arab team in the World Cup! I'm also rooting for Belgium because of the young talents. And I really want to see Italy out because I hate their style."

There is also speculation over the fact that this is the first World Cup since 1986 that coincides with the fasting month of Ramadan:

Translation: The last World Cup won by Argentina was in Ramadan of 1986. And the 2014 World Cup sees the start of that month. So happy Ramadan to Argentina.