Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Indian soccer: High in crowd , low in rank

Yesterday, Salt Lake stadium in kolkata witnessed a rare soccer match between Bayern Munich,the bundesliga champions and Mcdowell Mohunbagan , the local soccer club from India. It was Bayern's last match in the Asian tour that they had undertaken. More importantly, it was the final match for the legendary German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn, 38 as he retires from competitive soccer.

Salt Lake stadium was filled to a capacity of 120,000 people of soccer fans who had queued up two hours before the match started.

But the match was completely unequal. Oliver Kahn collected just two balls in his 54 minutes stay. Bayern players hardly exerted themselves in a match they won easily 3-0.
Indian soccer is ranked 158th in FIFA rankings and the difference in skill, speed was clearly painful to watch.

AIFF could have got the Indian national side (now practising in chennai) to play Bayern. Indonesia did the same in the previous match that Bayern played in Bali. Or IFA could have invited another top European club to play Bayern in Kolkata. In either of the situations, fans would have been treated to a high standard football. Watching Kahn doing nothing under the bar is regrettable to say the least. Oliver Kahn finally left the field , substituted in the 54th minute, amidst thunderous applause from 120,000 appreciating fans.

One last word about the organisation. It was a funny sight watching the commissioner of kolkata police rush on to the ground to protect some bayern players from getting mobbed by fence-jumping fans at the end of the match. While there were hundreds of policemen in the crowd eating peanuts and watching the match, there was none that came to the players rescue when the mob started invading the field. The commissioner was the sole uniformed man running on the pitch. The police force appeared as unprofessional as the organisers in effectively stationing their men around the stadium.

Nevertheless, this was a rare match, personally , for me to view.

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