Football fan lives her dream as she watches Messi after driving from Kerala to Doha

Naaji Noushi drove across India, Oman, the UAE and Saudi Arabia to see her favourite player in Qatar World Cup

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A mother of five from the South Indian state of Kerala has lived her dream of watching Lionel Messi play at the World Cup in Qatar.

Naaji Noushi, 33, drove the 6,000 kilometres from Kerala to Doha over 45 days alone to cheer for Messi in what could have been his last World Cup match.

As it turned out, it was a match to remember as Messiscored in Argentina's 2-1 win over Australia to send them through to the Fifa World Cup quarter-finals and a tie against the Netherlands.

“It was the ultimate fan girl moment for me," she told The National. "I was standing on the grass on the stadium ground, and he was just a metre away from me."

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I could not take my eyes off Messi as he moved with the ball on the ground right in front of me
Naaji Noushi,

Ms Noushi, a traveller and a YouTuber, was in the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium VIP gallery in Al Rayyan on Saturday when the 35-year-old Argentinian star crushed the Aussies with a left-foot goal after 35 minutes.

Ms Noushi said she got the opportunity to stand pitchside 70 minutes into the game for a close-up of the action with the help of Qatar National Bank, one of the World Cup sponsors.

“When I was standing on the grass with thousands of football fans cheering all around me, I could not stop crying," she said. "This was a moment I had never imagined."

"I could not take my eyes off Messi as he moved with the ball on the ground right in front of me. Watching a game on TV is one thing, but the sheer magic of seeing him in real-time just blew me away."

Ms Noushi began her journey on October 15 from Kerala in an SUV and cooked and slept in it as she drove across the Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to reach the port city of Mumbai, from where she shipped her car to Oman.

In her second leg of the journey, Ms Noushi drove across Oman, UAE and Saudi Arabia before reaching Qatar, where she is staying with family.

The social media influencer has garnered millions of followers on her YouTube channel Naajinoushi Solo Mom Traveller and her Instagram, where she has documented her adventure by posting photos and videos.

Her latest post shows her posing from the match ground with the comment, “finally, full on Messi and Argentina”.

She said she plans to stay in Qatar where she hopes to see two-time champions Argentina lift the World Cup.

“I have tickets for the next Argentina match on December 9," she said. "I am only going for matches played by my favourite team."

“It is a carnival-like atmosphere here. Qatar has turned this into an unforgettable Arab Fifa experience for football lovers. I am sure I will have memories for life when I go back home.”

Updated: December 06, 2022, 2:50 AM
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