As all the roads lead to the Samba land for the ultimate Football festival, this post is just a humble attempt in letting the world know that I too will be following the beautiful game. Yes, my country languishes at 154 in the FIFA rankings. Yes, in my country, its only about Cricket, which is preceeded by Cricket and more Cricket follows. It doesn’t matter. We’ll become overnight football fanatics during the world cup. When the ball starts rolling, Kolkata, Kerala and Goa will just resemble one of the streets of Sao Paulo itself. Giant screens are set up in the leading pubs and sports bars of Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi. Kolkata will carry over the passion it exhibits in an East Bengal- Mohan Bagan clash, to cheering the Messis, Neymars and Ronaldos. Northern Kerala is already resembling a battle field with the Brazilian and Argentinian fans locking horns. And Goa has gone a step further by sending its ministers to Brazil, apparently to ‘study’ the game.
So, what are my memories of the world cup. I do remember, in bits and pieces and crumbs, the Ronaldo phenomenon in France in 1998. About how the bald headed youngster took Brazil into the finals. But the images are so little and is limited to what my soccer crazy Dad used to tell me.
I do remember the 2002 edition at Korea and Japan clearly. The South Koreans kept churning out surprises after surprises in the knock out stages and ended up in the last four. The ‘Good Bye France’ write-up by one of the fans, was an instant hit. Turkish forward Hakan Sukur’s fastest goal in the history, bagged me vital points in the Sports Quiz competition held at school, a little later. But overall, this world cup saw the sheer Brazilian dominance. We had our first sighting of Ronaldinho, who had a meteoric rise to fame. Then there was Roberto Carlos with his twirling free kicks, the ever graceful Cafu, the veteran stalwart Rivaldo and of course, our very own bald headed sensation Ronaldo.
2006 was very different in its own ways. By now, I had become a loyal German fan. I giggled every time they did well and was dejected when they lost in the Semis. Zidane’s headbutt, Brazil’s below par outing, Christiano Ronaldo- Rooney ugly face off were the highlights, in what is according to me, a very dull world cup. By the way, I didn’t like Italy being crowned the world champions!
Now coming on to my favorite of all the world cups! South Africa, 2o10. Social Media was just about beginning to change our lives. And so the Pre- and Post-match analysis were through facebook posts and tweets. But what made the world cup so interesting was the way the Rainbow nation had organized the event. The African flavour was there to see everywhere. Waka Waka, Vuvu Zela and Jabulani had become household words. The on-field events were equally glamorous. Germany, with its youngsters, displayed a brand of football which was breathtakingly fast and so wonderful to watch. It only failed against the boring yet effective Tok Tok tactics of Spain. Ghana won our hearts and that douche bag Luiz Suarez, perennial brickbats. Messi of Argentina was miles behind in class and form of Messi of Barcelona. And there were stars, in Wesley Sneijder, Mesut Ozil, Thomas Mueller, Iniesta, Xavi and a list of Spanish stars from Barcelona. In the end, as our Ravi Shastri says, Football was the winner.
This world cup offers so much excitement, for it is held in Brazil, the land of Edison Arantes Do Nascimento ( Pele ). It’ll be interesting to see the likes of Neymar, Messi and Ronaldo, along with the German teenagers of 2010 and the defending champions. In the battle between the magic of South American Soccer and the Dour machine like professionalism of Europeans, I hope football fans are entertained to the core. Go Germany, I am cheering for you guys, as usual.