Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Finally!!..The Fifa World Cup is here...and so is the ever present world cup fever... For a country that is ranked 117th in the world, and that lost to Australia by a humilitating margin of 7-0 in the world cup qualifiers, this really shouldn't matter. Who gives a damn!!! Lets all go watch Dravid and Sehwag making the West Indians wish they had chosen a different sport. But this amazingly is not the case.
They say that the largest Faith in the world is not the Roman Catholic faith, not Islam... but Football, if you go by the number of followers alone. Its true that we Indians follow a different religion, that of a willow and a much smaller ball, but the quadrennial defection has to be seen to be believed.
I am not talking about myself. I am, by birth, a Bengali. The race known all over the country for their passionately crazy fascination with several lost causes - be it communism, Sourav Ganguly or yes...Football. The only hint of passion that football generates in India is when East Bengal and Mohun Bagan play...this too, has been wilting over the past decade or so. This is of course exclusive of World Cup fever. Come World Cup and Calcutta is suddenly the city to watch in India. In the weeks leading up to the world cup all the news channels on the web carried several articles on how Calcutta was preparing itself for the WC...the pirated jersey boom..giant cut outs of the Gods... poojas being dedicated to Ronaldinho, Messi, Kaka... Calcutta, or Kolkata as it is now known...is clearly the city officially chosen to spearhead the Indian World Cup fever before ,in a months time, it goes back to taking the back seat as the city of has-beens behind the other metropolises of the nation. (Although Buddha seems to be a very popular topic nowadays).
In distant Bangalore too, the world cup fever has reached visible proportions. Giant Screens are being set up at numerous points in the city. In my workplace too, the few of us who watch football on a regular basis have enthused a few of the others to give Football a shot. This has worked to an amazing extent. An ardent Sourav Ganguly supporter, who a month back asked us who the hell Roberto Carlos was (!!!!), is now a full blooded supporter of Italy, and chants instances of past Glory of the 'Azzuri' as though he were recounting Sehwag's centuries!
Well, my parents have always been terribly dissapointed by my tendency to be "Un-Bengali"... I have hardly ever stayed in Bengal and it is true that over the past few years I seem to able to express myself better in English. My mum shushes me loudly everytime me n my sis have a conversation in English...shouts of "Bangla Jaano na!!!" ("Dont know Bangla!!!") interrupting our conversations... i have always hated Roshogolla, and winced everytime Robindro Sangeet was played or sung...and the most heinous of all crimes...at a point when Azhar and Sourav were both playing, considering myself a true blue Hyderabadi, I supported Azzu Bhai. I distinctly remember getting mauled by all and sundry during a summer vacation in Kolkata... when the 99 world cup was on. Well...in this one respect they can be proud... I used to love playing the game in school...and now, hindered by an increasingly corpulent physique and my dastardly laziness , I play the EA sports version on the computer.
Sadly, in this regard too some may consider me lacking. In Kolkata a WC conversation will surely start with "To, Brazil na Argentina?". To my answer " England" , most people wince and say "Ki...Englaaaaand ??"(What...England (utter contempt)), some smile sadly...some laugh aloud. Well..thats the way it is. In the non world cup years I ardently follow the leagues..and support Liverpool and Steven Gerrard vociferously. And England has always been my team...although this time thay are truly a squad of greats.. any team boasting of Owen, Rooney up front..Gerrard, Lampard and Joe Cole in the middle, Ferdinand and Terry at the back are destined for greatness.
Or so it seems...their display against Paraguay was PATHETIC!!!.. I can't believe Erriksson's using Gerrard as a defensive midfielder... he's the kind of player go can turn a game around by the scruff of its neck..for evidence look no further than tha FA cup final this year or the Legendary Champion's league final of lst year against AC Milan. To use him in the defense is a dreadful mistake... it is sad to see a man who can score from the midfield with shots no human has a chance at stopping scrambling for balls in the defense. Its Criminal!!! Although I grant the Lampard/ Gerrard Dilemma is a huge one for any coach... I say play Gerrard in the first eleven and substitute him with Lampard...or the other way around, when the sapping german heat gets to one of them... but playing Gerrard in defense is just so sad!!!!
Any way I have this sneaky feeling that this is going to be Michael Owen's Cup and England's...we ll know in a months time (hopefully not sooner!).
Posted by Blackbird at Tuesday, June 13, 2006