The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off June 14 in Russia. Meet the South Florida fans of every country in the tournament and learn about their best memories, favorite players and predictions.
Name: Mohsen Massoudi.
Lives: Hollywood, moved here 1980.
Memories of national team: As a youngster I played for a youth team of a big club so I got to be the ball boy during their games. I saw Pele from the sideline in the early 1970s. I saw Bayern Munich with Gerd Muller, and Beckenbauer. My biggest national team memory was France ’98, when Iran beat the United States. It was an excellent game, and showed sports brings people together.
Favorite players: Nouri Khodayari. He scored on a header against the USA. My best player of all-time is Parviz Ghelichkhani, and also Hassan Rowshan.
Where will you watch the World Cup: At home. I got the days off from work when Iran plays.
Favorite national cheer/chant: Horn and “Iran!”
Best local spot to get Iranian food: Rumi on US-1 and 124th Street and the Kaspian-Persian Grill in Fort Lauderdale.
World Cup prediction: We have Spain and Portugal in our group, so I think we have no chance. I think Spain can win the whole thing.
Name: Mohamed Benjelloun.
Lives: Miami, moved here 1989.
Memories of national team: The 1986 World Cup is my earliest memory.
Favorite players: Ezzaki "Zaki" Badou.
Where will you watch the World Cup: Home and Bars, depends.
Favorite national cheer/chant: None.
Best local spot to get Moroccan food: My house (not many Moroccan restaurants in Miami), mostly Mediterranean food (Shaddai Fine Lebanese Cuisine).
World Cup prediction: Morocco will be out in second round.
Name: Ricardo Costa.
Lives: Miami. Moved here 14 years ago.
Memories of national team: We weren’t very good for a long time, so there aren’t too many old memories. My best memories are more recent, watching superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Figo.
Favorite Players: Of course, Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s the best in the world right now. I also liked Figo when he was playing. The best ever is Eusebio. Even though I never saw him play, I watched a lot of videos of him. He played in the 1960s and 1970s and is one of the top 10 scorers in the world all time. He is a legend.
Where will you watch the World Cup: At home with family and friends.
Favorite national cheer/chant: The Portuguese hymn, which says “As armas, As armas, Marchar, Marchar.” The song means march, march to fight for our homeland.
Best local spot to get Portuguese food: Old Lisbon, Coral Way
World Cup prediction: Portugal will win it all!
Name: Antonio Marques.
Lives: South Miami.
First memories of national team: The earliest World Cup I remember is 2006 Germany. We lost to France 3-1 in the quarters. Then, we won Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010. I was 9 years old for that World Cup and it was the first time I remember watching every single game that was on. I wore my Spain jersey every day.
Favorite players: Raul, Carles Puyol, Xavi, Andres Iniesta.
Where he will watch the World Cup: I will watch every single game at Sports Grill South Miami (his mother, Christine, is a managing partner there).
Favorite national cheer/chant: None that is printable.
Best local spot to get Spanish food: Casa Juancho.
World Cup prediction: Semifinals. From there, who knows? We absolutely can win, but we underperformed in the Euros and Argentina would be tough if we have to face them.