DHAKA (AFP) Bangladesh sit a lowly 157th in footballs national rankings, but the World Cup excites wild rivalry as the country splits down the middle are you batty about Brazil, or ardent about Argentina? For the South Asian nations tailors, such passion is good for business with fans proving their die-hard allegiance with counterfeit team shirts and large, colourful flags draped from houses, offices and street lamps. For the last seven days Ive been selling 2,000 flags a day, said Foyez Ahmed Titu, a tailor who sews flags and shirts at a small shop in Dhaka, the capital of a country normally focused on cricket. Ive hired more than a dozen extra workers to keep up with demand and none of us have slept properly for weeks, he said. Bangladesh, which has never qualified for the World Cup, first developed its obsession with Brazil and Argentina in 1982 when television began broadcasting the tournament matches live across the country. People instantly fell in love with Brazil because of their stylish football. But in 1986, Maradonas victorious Argentina snatched the young generation support, said Motaher Hossain Masum, a sports writer. Since then, when the World Cup kicks off, we become a nation divided into Brazils yellow and green versus Argentinas blue and white. The rivalry is now in every family, village and town, he said. For flag and shirt makers, the upturn in business is a major relief. My garment factory has bled cash over the last few months as we lacked export orders due to the global meltdown, said Abdul Kahhar Palash, an apparel manufacturer based at Fatullah, just outside the capital. But over the last two weeks, I have used 50 workers to sew World Cup flags and made a great profit. Next month, Ill be able to pay workers on time, he said. Mohammad Yousuf, another tailor in central Dhaka, said he downloaded the flag designs of each of the 32 countries playing in the World Cup and will sew any flag design to order but two are proving by far the most popular. Ive sold a few Italian, English and German flags and theres the odd Portugal fan, but almost all of the flags Im selling are Brazilian and Argentinian, he told AFP. In Bardi town, northwest of Dhaka, almost all of the 10,000 residents appear to be flying either a Brazilian or Argentinian flag, with some measuring more than 30 feet (10 metres) across. The flags are a symbol, telling people which side you belong to. You are not a true supporter if you dont have any flags, said one Bardi resident. On the busy streets of downtown Dhaka, former mechanic Mohamad Salim, one of over a hundred hawkers selling Brazil and Argentina flags on bamboo poles, was deeply grateful for the rivalry. Today, I made 3,000 taka (43 dollars) by selling flags. Its the most Ive earned in one day for ages. Thank God I made a whole years earnings in the last two weeks, he said. The month-long World Cup, which is being held in South Africa from June 11, is expected to draw record television audiences in Bangladesh. Advertisers are hoping half the 150 million population will watch if Brazil and Argentina, who are drawn in separate qualifying groups, clash in the final rounds. Leading companies like Swiss food giant Nestle have special World Cup advertisements, showing Bangladeshi fans of the two South American nations yelling at each other over who is going to win the tournament. Neither Brazil nor Argentina are the bookies favourites this year but this doesnt bother local fans to them, soccer is Brazil and Argentina, and Diego Maradonas presence as a coach adds a new dimension to the decades-old obsession. I am a great fan of Maradona. He is a demi-God, said Russel Ahmed, a bus ticket seller who has hoisted a giant 20-foot-high Argentina flag on the roof of his modest Dhaka house. He will take Argentina back to their glory days, he said. But his friend Raju, who has bought a Brazilian flag, claims this is the year that Brazil will triumph once more. Kaka is still the best player in the world, he said. However all the hype over the World Cup is tinged with sadness for the countrys former soccer great Sheikh Mohammad Aslam and football officials who said the number of spectators watching local league matches is derisory. In the 1980s and 1990s when soccer was far more popular, Aslam was treated like a super-star. Fans would line up in front of my club since dawn to have a glimpse of me. I could not go shopping, Aslam told AFP. A Dhaka derby between the then-leading Mohammedan and Abahani clubs would bring 80,000 fans flocking to the stadium hours before the match would start. Now only a few hundred people turn up for big matches. These days nobody knows a national (football) team player. By contrast, cricketers are feted like Bollywood heroes, Aslam said. Aslam, who is also an official at the national football federation, said they plan to capitalise on the World Cups popularity to lure young supporters into the domestic scene. We are racing against time to restore soccers rightful place in the country, he said.