Soccer

Meet South Florida's World Cup fans: Group H

A fan of the Colombia national soccer team cheers from the stands during a farewell exhibition game at the Nemesio Camacho stadium in Bogota, Colombia, Friday, May 25, 2018. Colombia will also play a friendly match against Egypt in Italy before heading to Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
A fan of the Colombia national soccer team cheers from the stands during a farewell exhibition game at the Nemesio Camacho stadium in Bogota, Colombia, Friday, May 25, 2018. Colombia will also play a friendly match against Egypt in Italy before heading to Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

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Meet South Florida's World Cup fans

The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off June 14 in Russia. Meet the South Florida fans of every country represented in the tournament and learn about their best memories, favorite players and predictions.

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The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off June 14 in Moscow. Meet the South Florida fans of every country represented in this year's tournament as well as learn about their best memory, favorite player and where they think they will finish.

COLOMBIA

Name: Martin Londono.

Age: 17.

Lives: Coral Gables.

Memories of national team: I remember the qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup. I was 10, and that was the first time I paid attention to all the games. I also went to see the team play in Miami in 2007, and it was cool to see how so many Colombians cheering for the team.

ColombiaLondono.jpg

Favorite players: Radamel Falcao, Juan Cuadrado, James Rodriguez, Mario Yepes, Davinson Sanchez.

Where he will watch the World Cup: Traveling in Europe with friends. Should be fun to watch over there.

Favorite national cheer/chant: The national anthem. It’s a pretty song, we’re very proud and we all sing at the top of our lungs.

Best local spots to get Colombian food: Mondongo’s and Monserrate in Doral.

World Cup prediction: If we get past the Round of 16, I think we can reach the semifinals.

JAPAN

JapanFan
Kai Ito

Name: Kai Ito.

Age: 23.

Where you live: Recent graduate of University of Miami. Now lives in New York.

Memories of national team: I went to a World Cup game in Japan in 2002. That was awesome. First time going to World Cup, supporting my team with people from my country. I also saw Japan vs. Australia at the 2006 World Cup in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Lost 3-1. I was 11. The Australians welcomed me. We took pictures together and exchanged flags.

All-time favorite players: Hidetoshi Nakata. He was a great midfielder, played in Italy, retired after the 2006 World Cup. One of the few Japanese players to become an international star.

Where he will watch the World Cup: Sports bars.

Your favorite national cheer/chant: Nippon! (double clap) Nippon! (double clap).

Best local spot to get Japanese food: Matsuri on Bird Road. All Japanese people in Miami go there.

World Cup prediction: Best we have ever done is Round of 16. I want to be an optimist and get to quarters.

POLAND

PolandFan
Michal Gorszczaryk

Name: Michal Gorszczaryk.

Age: 21.

Where you live: Fort Lauderdale, since 2017.

Memories of your national team: We beat Portugal 2-1 in qualifying for Euro 2006. Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Figo played for Portugal, so beating them was very big news. Euzebiusz Smolarek scored both goals for Poland, but nobody outside Poland talks about him.

Favorite players: I’m a goalkeeper, so my favorite it Jerzy Dudek, who won Champions League and played with Liverpool and Real Madrid. Also, Artur Boruc.

Where he will watch the World Cup: I may be in Poland, where we gather in plazas and watch on big screens.

Favorite national cheer/chant: The national hymn. We sing it before, during, after, while we’re drinking, all the time. Even at home, we stand up and sing.

Best local place to get Polish food: I go to Costco and buy beef, sausage, pancakes, but it’s not the same as my grandmother’s cooking.

World Cup prediction: I hope we win the World Cup, but I definitely think we can win the group.

SENEGAL

SenegalFan
Mame Sow

Name: Mame Sow.

Age: 31.

Lives: Downtown Miami. Moved here 2016.

Memories of national team: I lived in Senegal until age 11 and soccer in Africa is a huge thing. Our team is nicknamed The Lions, and they had memorabilia and food packaging with the Lions on there. Game day at our house, all the kids were in the living room with parents, aunts, uncles, watching together.

Favorite players: Henri Camara. Sadio Mane.

Where she’ll watch the World Cup: From home, if I’m not working (Sow is a pastry chef at Norman Van Aken’s Wynwood restaurant, Three).

Favorite national cheer/chant? “Allez, Allez, Allez, Allez...”

Best local spot to get Senegalese food: No restaurants, but I used baobab fruit for one of the desserts I made for the restaurant. Baobob is popular in Senegal. The fruit looks like a green coconut, with a dry powder inside. We call it “Pain de Singe”, which means Monkey Bread.

World Cup prediction: Just making the finals is great. This team compared to previous teams is very focused and humble.

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