INDIA

V

BAYERN MUNICH

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PJN STADIUM, 10TH JAN 2012

1800 hours, TEN ACTION

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For once, a foreign football team will touch Indian shores and not enjoy the limelight. For once, a foreign football team will touch Indian shores and there will be no one chanting their name. For once, a foreign football team will touch Indian shores and the crowd will probably come to the stadium to watch the opposite team- rather, a player from the opposite team.

No, Indians havenai??i??t forgotten their manners. Itai??i??s just that the whole of Indian football will be busy tomorrow planning a farewell for probably the greatest ever footballer to grace the game in India. As Baichung Bhutia prepares for one last farewell, you could forgive the Indian public for cheering the Indian team over the mighty Bayern Munich.

The Audi Football Summit planned as a farewell match for Baichung Bhutia would be played tomorrow at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium at 6 pm. Before the big game, there will be the national India finals of the FC Bayern Youth Cup at 4:30 pm.

Bayern Munich

Bayern, who were on a week long training camp in Qatar arrived in New Delhi sans their fourth goalkeeper Maximillian Riedmuller, their only change from the squad that was originally announced. Bayern were in red hot form in Qatar, winning all their friendlies against Egyptian side Al Alhi and Qatari second division side Al Sailiya. Apart from striker Mario Gomez who limped off in one of the friendlies, the rest of the squad is fit and raring to go.

Bayern are enjoying the winter break in the Bundesliga and are currently in pole position after 17 games in the season. They enjoy a three-point advantage at the top of the league and will look forward to keeping themselves match fit to resume the Bundesliga on the 21st of January. The 22-time Bundesliga and 4 time Champions League winning outfit has come to India with a full strength squad that has the likes of Phillip Lahm, Arjen Robben, Thomas Mueller, Franck Ribery and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes will probably give a go to all of his players, it being a friendly match.

Baichung in the AFC Challenge Cup

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This will be Bayernai??i??s second trip to India after touring Calcutta for Oliver Kahnai??i??s farewell game. Director of Sport at Bayern, Christian Nerlinger was thrilled to be back in India again.ai??? Weai??i??re looking forward to seeing this fascinating country,” said Nerlinger. Coach Heynckes, a member of the 1974 West German World Cup winning team too was upbeat: ai???I have great expectations of the trip. What’s the culture there? What are the people like?ai???

Bayern are expected to field a traditional 4-4-2 formation with the midfield comprising of Schweinsteiger, Ribery, Robben and Kroos. Thomas Mueller and Mario Gomez will play upfront while captain Lahm along with Daniel van Buyten, JAi??rA?me Boateng and Holger Badstuber will play in defense. Coach Heynckes has warned that he will not take India lightly and play to their full potential. “We will be testing some of our players ahead of the second-leg and will surely play some attractive football,” he signed off.

Bayern Munich- Manuel Neuer, Hans Jorg Butt, Rouven Sattelmaier, Breno, Daniel van Buyten, Rafinha, JAi??rA?me Boateng, Philipp Lahm, Diego Contento, Holger Badstuber, Franck RibAi??ry, Arjen Robben, Takashi Usami, Danijel Pranjic, David Alaba, Luiz Gustavo, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, Emre Can, Nils Petersen, Ivica Olic, Thomas Mueller, Mario Gomez

Bahichung while playing for Bury FC in England

Ai??

Ai??

India

With the media attention focused so much on the Sikkimese Sniper, it is easy for the Indian players to let down their guard. The players assembled on the 8th of January after being released form their clubs and immediately got back to training at the Ambedkar stadium. Savio Medeira has picked a relatively new look side with several debutants in the squad. Adil Khan, Gurjinder Kumar and Felix Dai??i??Souza have all been called up for the camp for the first time.

Adil Khan after a good showing for the otherwise mediocre Sporting Clube de Goa has been rewarded after some consistent performances in the League so far. Felix too has been good for Churchill under the bar and will be looking forward to making his India debut. India will have a big void to fill at the centre of defence after the retirement of Mahesh Gawli. His place is likely to be taken by Gurjinder Kumar alongside Gourmangi Singh. The East Bengal stopper back has had a decent season for the Red and Golds partnering Uga Okpara in the heart of the East Bengal defense.

Nabi and Sameer Naik will make up the defense that will have Karanjit Singh in goal. Clifford Miranda. Climax Lawrence, Rocus Lamare and Vashum will make up the midfield while Baichung and Jeje will play upfront. It will be a big test for the Indian defense to keep the likes of Mueller and Robben at bay. Coach Savio Medeira has said that these games will not help Indian football, nevertheless it will be a good learning curve for some of the younger players. To play the likes of Bayern Munich would be a dream come true for some of these boys and they would definitely be looking forward to playing the German giants.

India- Karanjit Singh, Subhasish Roy Chowdhury, Felix Dai??i??Souza, Jaspal Singh, Gourmangi Singh, Sameer Naik, Govin Singh, Nirmal Chhetri, Syed Rahim Nabi, Adil Khan, Gurjinder Kumar, Reisangmi Vashum, Jewel Raja, Climax Lawrence, Rakesh Masih, Baldeep Singh, Clifford Miranda, Lalrindika Ralte, Rocus Lamare, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Sushil Singh, CS Sabeeth and Baichung Bhutia.

Baichung after the Nehru Cup win

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Who would have imagined that on the 15th of December 1976 in a tiny hamlet of Tinkitam in Sikkim, a blue-eyed boy would be born to take Indian football by storm. Baichung ai???The Legendai??? Bhutia has come a long way, carrying the footballing torch that many times was extinguished along the way by the cricketing wind, but held up from going off with his immaculate touches and fabulous goals. Each of his 43 goals in 107 matches for the National team has been treasures that Indian football fans have cherished.

The two Nehru Cups, the AFC Challenge Cup and the SAFF Cup wins along with the AFC Asian Cup qualification have been streaks of light in an otherwise dark era for Indian football, lit up only because ai???The Legendai??? dared to dream and believed in Indian football. The countless goals for his clubs, the Kolkata crowd – both Bagan and East Bengal halves – chanting his name and him being idolized by fans across India were testament to his talent; not to forget his feat of being the first Indian player to play professional football abroad.

Across the country, as the whole of the nation worshipped its cricketers, Bengal and Goa still idolized soccer because one Baichung Bhutia reminded them that football was still the beautiful game. As the whole of India discussed its cricketing heroes, a packed Ambedkar Stadium braved the rain to cheer India in the Nehru Cup final because one Baichung Bhutia gave them sheer ecstacy.

Those were unimaginable moments, moments that gave Indian football hope, moments that gave Indian football a chance to cheer, and moments that gave Indian football a chance to win. Baichung may no longer be with the National team but those fifteen odd years have given the likes of Jeje Lalpekhlua and Sunil Chhetri someone to look upto.

Baichung- You are a legend. Forever a Legend

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If Indian football has made a semblance of a mark on the global scene, it is because of one man – Baichung ai???The Legendai??? Bhutia.

Goodbye, our favourite son! What an incredible servant you have been for Indian football. You in the sight of those boots and the blue jersey gave us adrenalin pumping moments, moments to forget the Zidanes and the Ronaldos and cheer our very own.

His career has ended but his second innings in Indian football has well and truly started. In United Sikkim Football Club, Baichung will continue to be associated with Indian football. His aim – to bring about change in the way soccer is administered in the country and to make his club a model club in India. If this innings is anything like his first innings in Indian football, then be rest assured, Indian football will be on the rise. And may we dare say, its not ai???the end of an era but the start of a legacyai???.

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7 Responses to “Baichung Bhutia’s Farewell Preview – India v Bayern Munich: The Legend Departs, The Legacy Continues!”

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  1. Rahul says:

    Baichung is blue eyed ?

  2. Shishank says:

    Long live the legend of Bhutia. Have been seeing people in Europe(especially England) braving the cold and watching their favourite club play football, now in the same Delhi cold we will see our team. GO INDIA GO.

  3. JM says:

    “His career has ended but his second innings in Indian football has well” – ๐Ÿ˜€ cricker some hows creeps in even here also. May be in Brazil that shud be case with futbol ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. redNblack_blood says:

    Thank You captain

  5. Subhranil says:

    very well written piece!
    Good bye sikkimese sniper.Thanks for all those wonderful memories.
    Lead India,One Last Time.Its been an honour,and a privilege watching you all these years!