Argentina fans in quest for World Cup final tickets after 10,000km bike ride to Doha

Three friends travelled through 15 countries to Qatar and have not given up hope of attending the final against holders France

Leandro Pighi, Lucas Ledezma and Matias Vilaruel cycled through 15 countries over six months, arriving in Qatar the day before the tournament kicked off.  Ali Al Shouk/ The National
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A globe-trotting group of Argentina fans are on the hunt for World Cup final tickets after completing an epic 10,000km bike ride from Cape Town to Doha to cheer on their side.

Leandro Pighi, 32, Lucas Ledezma, 35, and Matias Vilaruel 30, cycled through 15 countries in six months on the ride of a lifetime, arriving in Qatar the day before the tournament kicked off.

They have attended all of Argentina's matches on the way to Sunday's final.

Now they face the small matter of getting tickets for what is set to be Lionel Messi's farewell appearance on the World Cup stage against reigning champions France.

'An incredible journey'

“We started this adventure in May and it was an incredible journey. We took flights to Cape Town from Argentina and started cycling all the way through Africa and Asia to Qatar. We followed our football passion and chant for the team in all matches,” Mr Pighi said.

The trio parked their bikes at Souq Waqif — a popular gathering spot for fans during the tournament — in the hope of securing tickets for the big game.

“We want to get match tickets but until now there are no tickets. We have been searching for tickets for three days now,” Mr Pighi said.

“There are tickets on the black market but they are expensive. We want to buy tickets with Fifa's official price,” he added.

“It is unfair for Argentina fans not to have match tickets. We followed the team all the way from Argentina to Doha and we are here looking to support them in the stadium not outside the stadium.”

The three friends were joined on the gruelling cycling challenge by travel agent Silvio Gatti, who had to leave Doha before the final to start a new job in Australia.

The group were grateful for the chance to unite with people across their world as they took in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt, before travelling to Palestine, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

“People throughout Africa and the Middle East were very generous with us. They welcomed and opened their doors to us,” said Mr Ledezma.

The group have gone the distance previously to soak up the atmosphere of major sporting events.

In 2016, the four men travelled to the Rio Olympics and had a similar trek to the last World Cup in Russia.

Mr Pighi spoke warmly of the hospitality of people across the Middle East.

“People here are very friendly, smiling and welcoming us all the time. They share their food, water and offered us somewhere to rest and have showers at their homes.”

“Qatar was really amazing for us. And we hope we can have the title tonight for Argentina.”

Updated: December 18, 2022, 11:04 AM
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