TODAY -

UEFA EURO 2008

By Mimin Haokip *

The European Championship, the most popular football events after the world cup, kicks off on June 7. For the 2nd time ever two countries, Austria and Switzerland will share the staging of the events dubbed as EURO - 2008.

In the fray are 16 teams, which advanced through a tough qualifying phase. They all will complete in 31 matches to be played in 10 cities (Austria and Switzerland). All nations are capable of lifting this prestigious trophy so it is being regarded as wide open affairs. But football fraternity around the Globe will be missing some nations like Europe powerhouse England, Norway, Belgium, etc.

For England the same story of so near yet so far. This is the 4th time they fail to qualify since 1960 and among the teams who qualify Poland and host Austria the surprise package they are the debutante in this prestigious competition and among the past winner Denmark (Euro-92) is the only casualty who did not make it this time around.

Regular football nations who will be in action such as Germany (3 times winner in 1972, 1980, 1996 in Group ‘B’ which includes Croatia, host Austria, Poland. All together Germany (former West Germany) has a distinct records as they make it 5 times final appearance in which they won 3 times and twice runners’ up.

This year will be the 13th Edition of EUROPEAN NATION’S CUP and as we look ahead to Group which is known as “GROUP OF DEATH” and in Group ‘C’ the likes of Netherland, France, Italy, Romania. France has already won twice in (1984, 2000), Italy once in 1968.

In this final match between Italy and Yugoslavia (present Serbia) was a history and also known as Play-off final as it was being replayed after the first final was tied as 1-1 and eventually Italy defeated Yugoslavia 2-0 in the replay match (1968) and about Holland in the Hey Day’s of Ruud Gullit, Van Basten, Frank Rijkard, Ronald Koeman, etc., they defeated USSR (now CIS) 2-0 in 1988.

And in the History of Euro Championship, on one occasion in 1976 final match between Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic) and West Germany (now Germany) was decided in penalty shoot-out after 120 minutes of extra time, the score read 2.2, and Czechlovakia winning 5-3 in the tie breaker.

Since the introduction of Golden Goal Rule by World Governing Bodies, i.e. FIFA and UEFA in EURO-96. Germany defeated Czech Republic in Golden Goal score by an emerging Star Oliver Bierhoff. It is a DejaVu that same two teams were playing in the final match exactly after 20 years. And another Golden Rule Goals spoiled Italy dream of winning the prestigious trophy for the 2nd times against France in EURO-2000.

Italy were leading 1-0 until the 90th minutes and the 3 super-sub of France, Sylvian Wiltord scoring injury time goal to level the score and another super sub, David Trejeguet, scoring with Golden Goal in extra time an assist from another super sub, Robert Pires.

Altogether 9 countries have won this competition of the first 12th Edition -1960 to 2004 and when we look ahead to this edition, Europe’s finest sporting moment and fire work are certain to follow in this showpiece event known originally as the Nations Cup. Keep your finger cross as the showdown is knocking on your TV screen.

France’s Raynald Domenech stands out despite his interest in the theatre where he has performed in plays by Anton Checkon and Engene Lonesco. The 56 years old french man however, is different from most other Coaches in that he deeply believes in the influence of the Zodiac on the makeup of personalities and therefore on that of a football Team.

So, let’s discuss about tomorrow kick off, 13th Edition of UEFA European Nation Cup. The First match Group 'A' Swizerland against Czech Republic at Jakop Park (Switzerland) and later on Portugal and Turkey will be in action. In the last Edition, Portugal were Runner's up whereas Turkey will be appearing for the 4th time while in 2004 they didn't make it as far as players are concerned.

France Football Federations Chief Henry Delaunay was the man who first came up with the idea of a pan-European Football Tournament in 1927 but it was not until 1958 that his dream was realised. Unfortunately, Delaunay passed way in 1955, and would not see the birth of his competition three years later.

In his honour, the championship trophy is named the Henri Delaunay Trophy. The slogan for UEFA Euro - 2008 is “Expect Emotions”. UEFA President Michal Platini says: “It described in a nutshell what the UEFA 2008 has to offer, all kinds of emotions, joy, disappointment, relief on high tension — right up to the Final Whistle”

Trix and Flix, are the two official mascots for UEFA EURO - 2008 the mascots are twins wearing red and white colours representing host countries, Austria and Switzerland.

A new trophy will be awarded to the winner’s of Euro -2008. The new version of the Henri Delaunay Trophy created by Aspray London is almost and exact replica of the original cup designed by Anthus Bentrand. As small figure juggling a ball on the back of the original has been removed, as was marble plinth on the silver base of the trophy. It is 60 cm high trophy made of sterling silver and weighting 8 kgs. Though winning it should be a toughest job, lifting it would be the easiest job for the winners.

The official ball for the UEFA’s EURO - 2008 matches is a 14-panel ball produced by Adidas and named “Europass”. The revolutionary fine structure of the ball’s outer skin guarantees optimum grip between ball and boot. The name refers to the common ‘Europass’ between the two host countries of Austria and Switzerland.

It also represents every pass the players will make on the pitch during Euro 2008. Finally, it also signifies the fans who will make their way Austria and Switzerland for the final competition.

The extra swing and swerve expected by the designers would be a nightmare for both goalkeepers and defenders. But the brand new Europass ball would also cause a technical problem even to experience goals scorers. We will all have to wait and watch how the new ball is used by all the players of Euro-2008 in the football field.

Prize-Money
Participating fee: 7.5 million Euros, Group Stage (a match)
Win: 1 million Euros; Draw: 500,000 Euros
Quarterfinals: 2 million Euros,
Semifinals: 3 million Euros
Runner-up: 4.5 million Euros, Winner: 7.5 million Euros




* Mimin Haokip wrote this article for The Sangai Express. This article was webcasted on June 14, 2008.

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