TODAY -

FIFA U-17: US won but we were lauded more

Free Thinker *



Perhaps the entire population of Manipur might have watched (on TV) the India vs. USA match played on 6th October, at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi, if the power supply was in place. Many Manipuris ( Nagas ,Kukis, Meiteis, Pangans of the State) who are in Delhi witnessed the game live inside the Stadium.

There were about 46 thousand spectators inside when the Indo-US soccer clash took place. As per my conjectural enthusiastic estimation there were more than 10 thousand NE football fans in the Stadium; it could be slightly less than that. But the NE crowd, particularly the Manipuris was quite visible in and around.

That was our first match in a FIFA world Cup and that was certainly a good show on the part of our boys. Their confidence level was high, their body language was aggressive, their skill was up to the mark, their agility was quite impressive; what they lacked was experience and spontaneity and of course accurate passes . Some experts opine that the US players were physically much bigger and taller. I don’t subscribe to this view for the simple reason that many of the world’s best footballers were/are short and sturdy.

Though we were down by 3 goals to nil, look at the comparative performance chart; we are not far lagging behind. Ball possession 43:47 in percentage; Corners 3:3, wide shots 5:9, goal shots 1:8. Matos bhai (Indian coach), let us now concentrate more on goal shots (distance no matter) and pointed passes. He can’t hear me!

In advance a request was made in black and white from our lone BJP MP to the concerned Minister’s office for some passes for this match. That did not materialize. Then at the last moment one Congress MP of our State wrote directly to the Minister for few passes; there was no response.

At the eleven hour we approached the friendly Home minister from Arrunachal Pradesh and fortunately we could manage a few passes from his office. My daughter told me in a taunting tone that “ you don’t have the habit of buying tickets, the prices are pretty reasonable, why are you begging for passes from the high and mighty “. She does not understand the frills and thrills of carrying a VIP pass.

In my second thought and taking into consideration of the strong view expressed by the younger generation I would like to suggest FIFA, AIFF, SAI and Rathore sab that pass system must be done away with as it is extremely unsporting and creates vanity. Let everyone buy a ticket.

Eight hundred rupees (highest ticket price) is nothing for the top bosses; and 60 rupees (lowest ticket price) is nothing for a laity sport lover. Pass system encourages class system within the Stadium; a kind of a feudal mindset crop up; an atmosphere of superiority-inferiority complex created; at least in the field of sports some kind of equality and egalitarianism must prevail. It is just a wish, am I sounding too idealistic?

What is really heartwarming and exciting is that many spectators from Manipur have come to Delhi to see the India matches and encourage our boys. We can understand the enthusiasm of the families of the Eight Manipuri players of the Indian team; Credit goes to Renedy (President FPAI) for running around and making things easier for the players as well as for their families.

Manipur CM & Sports Minister, AMFA, TATA sports, proprietor of Classic Hotels, owner of Eastern Motors, malik of Sangai Continental and many others have extended their kind and benevolent support to the players and to their respective families. It is a very sensible gesture of a sporting society.

Hundreds of NE people from other States have also landed at Delhi to cheer up the Indian squad. Let us also not forget that one player each from Sikkim and Mizoram is also in the Indian team. I believe all of them might have seen the first match live inside the stadium with the Honorable Prime Minister.

If I remember correctly last time the USA team had beaten us 4 nil (under 16). Now it is only 3 nil (under 17). This time the score would have been 1:1 taking into consideration the penalty-kick inadvertently imposed upon us and the unlucky ball bouncing back from the horizontal bar of the US goal posts and the subsequent silly lapse on our part on the sudden counter attack.

Friends, this is just the beginning, India will soon emerge as a strong soccer playing nation with our boys in the frontline.

When the PM comes, can our football be far behind? (P.B SHELLEY twisted). I would like to wind up by quoting the USA coach, John Hackworth, “India exceeded our expectations”.


* Free Thinker wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on October 08, 2017.


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