JOHOR BARU: The FIFA World Cup, touted as the greatest show on earth, touches ordinary people around the world and not just the football stars battling for the biggest prize in the sport.

For many, the latest edition of the tournament brings back wonderful memories of old times with friends as they cheer once again for their favourite teams.

Among them is bank assistant manager Mohamed Bukhari Murad, 38, who recalled catching the matches with his college mates at mamak shops until the wee hours of the morning.

“During my college years, my friends and I would cheer for our teams with other football fans at the restaurant. It was such a great experience getting to share those moments together,” he said.

These days, most of them have settled down and are now living away from each other, said Mohamed Bukhari.

“However, we still keep in touch and whenever a match is going on, my phone will keep buzzing with incoming messages from WhatsApp groups commenting on the teams,” he said in an interview.

He added that he and his friends, who are supporting different teams, will also make bets at times for fun.

“We don’t bet with money but usually, it’s just asking the losing party to pay for the bills at the mamak shop.”

He said these days, he mostly watches the matches at home and invites his friends over on weekends.

“On most days, I will watch the games after work with my father but come weekends, my friends will come over to join us in cheering for our teams,” said Mohamed Bukhari, who is rooting for Belgium.

Plumber Nazri Nassir said he continues the tradition of watching the games with his friends who mostly live near his house in Kampung Melayu Majidee.

“We try to get together to watch the games as much as we can but there are days when we can’t because of work.

“We still watch the matches outside sometimes but more often than not, we’ll just go to each other’s houses and bring some snacks along,” said the 35-year-old.

Nazri, a Croatia fan, said he is glad that most of the pals he watched the World Cup with for over a decade are just living nearby.

Johor Indian Muslim Entrepreneurs Association secretary Hussein Ibrahim said business has picked up at mamak shops here since the 2022 World Cup kicked off on Nov 20.

“Business still can’t match the previous World Cups, but I think things will improve as the tournament moves on to the knockout round,” he said.