The moment of truth beckons for the Indian National football team as the squad gears up for the ultimate challenge which pops up every two years. SAFF Cup, earlier known as the South Asian Association of Regional Co-operation Gold Cup and South Asian Gold Cup, will be hosted by Nepal for the second time since its inception. The name of the tournament might have evolved over the time but surely the bling hasn’t receded with some of the top ranked teams taking time out from their busy schedule to participate in this tournament. With so much to look forward to in this tournament, TheHardTackle lists down five major eyeball grabbing things/events to look out for during the biggest football bonanza in Asia.
The New Indian Skin
After the recent terrific display in national colors, the team kit sponsor Nike decided to take the Indian national kit to the next level. The hard work of many engineers at the firm was finally culminated into the Blue Tigers’ Home & Away kit for the upcoming season. While the design solely focuses on enhancing the performance of the players, the price and the availability of the jersey’s is also within touching distance of a normal Indian football fan. With team scaling new heights, the jersey is faring at around same price as other not-so-famous European club jerseys in the store. Roughly priced around 3.3K, it is a steal keeping in mind the glory moments one can conjure up while flaunting it to any public place. And yes, don’t forget to top up the deal with the get the player name printing at the store for a handful of bucks.
The John Abraham Connection
After the massive success of his recent movies like Shootout at Wadala, I, Me aur Main- John Abraham was swamped with big shot projects (some of them rumoured to be from Hollywood), but the love for the beautiful game does not cater to any boundaries. Although a trip to Dasrath Stadium in Nepal doesn’t even require a Visa approval, John is expected to cheer the Blue Tigers from the stands. It is yet to be seen whether Bhaichung would also accompany him wearing the IMG-R t-shirts, just in case.
The Glamorous Coin Toss
Another Bollywood starlet cashing in on the tremendous hike in popularity of the game in the nation, largely due to gritty performances by the national team over past few years, is Priyanka Chopra. Fondly referred to as Piggy Chops, she got her PR skills right on the money when she was seen flipping coins at the 2013 International Champions Cup amidst clubs like Chelsea, Real Madrid, LA galaxy etc. As she hogged a lot of limelight during that, she has also pinned interest in flipping the coins at the SAFF games, especially India games. As if the game wasn’t attractive enough, the Piggy Chops effect might turn out to be really irresistible for the Indian football faithful.
Well after three people reported and wrote to the AIFF and the ten network about the English premier league being telecasted with Hindi commentary, but the country’s very own I-league and the prime tournament of the national team- SAFF Cup, would be coupled with English commentary, finally. All the fans are pretty excited about the change which has floated in. Indian Football and all its stars will reach out to the Aam Aadmi including Kejriwal. AIFF is cautious about team going on fasts if their plea for a private jet isn’t approved quickly.
New Talent on Display
Last but not the least; Team India will be unleashing some new young players in this tournament. Keeping an eye on the 2018 World Cup, some lads form the triumphant U-16 squad have been included in the squad. In matches against lowly ranked teams like Afghanistan, we can expect some influential players to be benched like Clifford Miranda, Gouramangi Singh etc and they could be replaced by the young colts. Although this might hit back, but the exposure the lads will get would eventually pay good dividends.
The six time champions all are set to conquer the world of south Asia for the record seventh time and this time amidst a lot of bling and brouhaha. There is absolutely no shortage of publicity for the tournament sponsored by the AIFF. Special arrangements have been made by the All Nepal Football Association for the hordes of traveling fans. Over to the Wim and his boys, as an observant nation watches on.