After a month of non-stop football, the World Cup finally reached its climax as first-time finalists Croatia took on a star-studded France in Moscow, Russia.
Thousands of Malaysians and tourists came together at numerous locations to watch the drama unfold on TVs and large screens in the Klang Valley.
Many watched the match at their favourite mamak, pubs, cafes, fast food restaurants, food courts, fields and even dedicated live-viewing spots to experience the energy and excitement of the beautiful game.
Souled Out Sri Hartamas in Kuala Lumpur showcased the match in grand fashion as they set up a large canopy opposite their premises, with a wide array of food available. Customers could enjoy the live performances, games and face painting held a couple of hours before the match kicked off at 11pm.
French student Valerie Iva, 22, was with her fellow college mates at the viewing party and thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere.
“I never would have thought how passionate Malaysians are for football. The excitement here is just as fever pitch as it is in my country.
“I do not feel homesick or feel left out on not being able to watch the match with my fellow countrymen as all my friends are supporting France in the final,” she said when met before the kick-off.
Meanwhile, at the popular Nasi Kandar Kayu in SS2, Petaling Jaya, a big crowd of both young and old gathered to watch the match. The over a dozen TV screens inside the restaurant also made it very convenient for viewers to grab a meal while enjoying the match.
At the Banana Leaf Restaurant in Centre Point, Bandar Utama, dozens of tables were occupied as customers watched the match on a large screen.
The crowd at both these eateries were clearly split on who they were supporting as some were rooting for the underdog – Croatia – while others felt France deserved to win.
Bank officer Raj Anand, 30, who was watching the match with his eight-year-old son and wife, said he was rooting for Croatia as he felt inspired by how a small nation could produce a football team that could reach the World Cup final.
“Hopefully I will be able to see Malaysia qualify for the World Cup in my lifetime. Nothing is impossible,” he said.
Elsewhere, football fans and residents in Taman Desa, Kuala Lumpur made their way to Desa Sentral early on Sunday to participate in a host of activities at Aset Kayamas’ project site in conjunction with the World Cup final.
Fans came dressed in colourful football jerseys to show support to their favourite team while participating in various football-related games organised by Astro together with their broadcast sponsors Aset Kayamas Sdn Bhd and Etika Sdn Bhd’s Wonda Coffee.
They were also joined by former Spanish football star Luis Garcia and former Manchester United star Wes Brown who spent time mingling with fans and signing autographs before the match kicked off at 11pm.
The football legends and fans later watched the match together where a large screen was constructed to showcase the final match.
The Tiger Beer football viewing party at The Square in Publika, Kuala Lumpur was an atmosphere bathed in a beautiful blue light with three large screens streaming the final match.
Tiger Malaysia marketing manager Pearly Lim said the tournament had her hooked with all the surprises and drama.
“For me, the Belgians were the most impressive team. They are a young squad and will certainly be a team to be feared in the near future,” said Lim.
Partygoer Adam Tan said the unpredictability of the matches made the World Cup exciting. “It shocked me that many of the strong teams lost to the underdogs. One theory is the stronger teams also play in the bigger leagues, so their players may have been overexerted.
“Another is they may have become complacent and overconfident from past victories. There is a life lesson to be learnt here. Talent is not good enough. One must put in effort as well,” he said.
One fan who added his own touch of merriment to the occasion was Davinder Jeet Singh Dhillon, who brought his dhol to the event.
“No matter which side scores, I’ll play my drum,” said Davinder.
Davinder was joined by his friends. One of them, Ajitpal Singh, a France fan, was there to celebrate his birthday. Ajitpal turned 40 just five minutes before the second half of the match.
One more fan who caught our attention was Wong Seng Fatt who professed to be a France supporter but turned up in a Manchester United jersey to show his loyalty to French midfielder Paul Pogba, who is a Red Devil.
During the first half of the game, with the score tied at 1-1, a confident Wong said he was unperturbed because he had full belief that France would win.
In addition to games, a lucky draw was held for guests who had purchased a bucket of Tiger beer from The Social at the event. Present to give away the lucky draw prizes was The Social Publika manager Daniel Hackenberg.
Fans also managed to score signed photos of football stars, Tiger beer jerseys and mini fridges in the dribbling and super shot challenges. Prizes were also given away to those who downloaded the TigerMy app.
The event was emceed by Double D while DJ Vic kept the crowd in a party mood with pumping tunes.