Tuesday, May 30, 2006

FIFA 2006

Yes. It's back. The FIFA world cup. In another 2 weeks, the world will eat, sleep and breathe football. It is surely the most popular sport and the most watched show on television. Even in a country like India, where the national team fails to qualify even for the world cup qulaifiers,
the game is huge. Over the next two months, the cricket bats will go in the closet and the locked footballs will come out. And with monsoon around the corner it is just about the right time.
I am sure i will be writing a lot on the cup as I get caught up in the frenzy. But I wanted to remember all my football moments before the world cup starts. A few snapshots from the most popular events in the most beautiful game that i viewed. Here we go.

Italia - 90
Frankly, I do not remember much of this event. I was just another 12 year old, happy with my bat and ball. Till Italia-90 came along. And everybody was talking about one name. Diego Maradona. I got hooked by no choice, as the nation had only one channel at that time and you had to watch whatever played. Somehow I remember the first match I watched was Argentina v/s Cameroon. A relative unknown facing the giants. This was supposed to be a walkover with argentina supposed to run away with it. Sure Diego Maradona played, But there was another man who made the party his own. Roger Milla. The favourites were shocked 1-0 and i was hooked on for life. Argentina recovered from the shock and went on to reach the finals, but roger milla was remembered for a long time. Coming out of retirement for the world cup, the 38 year old's jig by the side post is still the Kodak moment of the tournament. Argentina eventually lost the finals to west germany led by Lothar Mathaus 1-0. There were a lot of other names that were in the news, like italy's schillachi (who won the golden boot, scoring in every game he appeared) and baggio, holland's gullit with his hair, Englands linekar , argentina's cannigia are a few I can remember. But the champions had lost, the germans had won and a weeping maradona after the finals would have made anyone feel for him.

USA - 94
Four years after the first one, and frankly I don't remember much of it. I had finished s.s.c,
gearing up for H.S.C. Maybe that must have made me miss it. But i caught up with the scores and the finals. Hristo stoichkov from bulgaria won the golden boot and was not heard of by me atleast again. Roberto baggio missed out the most famous penalty miss of all time. Brazil won in the final against germany, gabriel batistuta , one of my all time favourites from my argentina played his first world cup, but the kodak moment of this cup would be bebeto,romario and the gang from brazil doing their famous cradle the baby after scoring.

France - 98
This was the world cup for me. I was 20, living all alone in a city away from home, and had my own television set. I could go on about this one, as i will surely not have the same experience again. I had another friend for company. Almost every evening, we would get together after dinner, grab our snacks in front of the t.v. Getting late for everything else the next morningwas worth it. I remember supporting Italy in that tournament, cos if nothing else, roberto baggio deserved another chance. I still remember the quarter final between france and italy. We were all geared up with beer and chips and it could not have gotten better. It went to the penalties, and roberto baggio scored. The game was tied and di biaggio was taking the final kick before sudden death. He did not run, shot from the spot and hit the cross bar. Barthez ran to his french team mates and di baggio stood motionless for a few seconds before he dropped on the spot. That was a heartbreaking moment for a fan. I swore that i would never drink that brand of beer (haake beck) again as it must have brought bad luck. I still have stuck to that one. I did not watch a single match after that and read about france winning in the papers and the whole ronaldo fit-unfit story. There were many kodak moments in this one, with performances from zinadine zidane, the rise of thierry henry and young michael owen, batistuta, davor suker of croatia who won the golden boot and has not been heard from since.
But the Kodak moment for me was in the round of 16 match between england and argentina. There was a tackle and david beckham was down on the ground. While lying down,
he kicked simeone and the referee promptly handed a red card. Beckham got up, hurled a few profanaties, spat on the ground and was escorted out of the field. A star was born.

Japan/Korea -2002
Not too exciting, i must say. Brazil, after losing the last world cup , were favourites to win this one. And they did quite convincingly. The culprit of the last world cup, ronaldo, was the most prolific scorer winning the golde boot. Well assisted by rivaldo and ronaldinho. The german goalkeeper, Oliver Kahn, a personal favourite, lost it in the finals by failing to collect one clearly. There were some highlights, like the Italy- South korea round of 16 match. With the score at 1-0 7 minutes before regular close, korea scored the equalizer. And when there were three minutes to the close of extra time, korea's Ahn jung-hwan got the golden goal. The azzuri cried foul play.
The korean had his future contract with Serie A club Lazio cancelled. But korea went ahead as far as the semi-final. Kodak moment - Yes, the famous chip from ronaldinho over david seaman's head to take brazil to victory against england.

Hoping this tournament, dubbed the greatest show on earth, is as exciting as it's predeccessors.
My wishes are for the azzurri. Not they are the best team, But for roberto baggio.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

God's lesser children

It's Back. The whole reservation thing. This time around it is for the IIT's and the IIM's and the M.B.B.S. And the whole nation is protesting. My first tryst with reservation was some 13 years ago. And it has been since then. What is the whole thing, anyway. Undeserving students will get admissions regardless of merit. And they will drop out unable to cope up. I am not against the reservation thing. I totally disagree with the way people are seggregated. In urban cities, it makes no sense to call a third generation under priveledged.
Education needs to reach the underpriveledged in this country. The motive behind the move is clear and concise, the implementation all wrong. It comes out as nothing more than a political move to capture the vote bank. I have nothing against any caste or tribe. It is a vice the world has problems with. But the way we handle it is seriously outdated.
I can't recall a student uprising at that time unlike now. Maybe, I was too young to know what was happening. And by the time it hit me, it was maybe a couple of years too late. Could have been interesting to come out on the streets. But the students are doing it now. There seem to be protests all around the country. It is kind of wierd to protest against policies being implemented by people we choose to represnt us in the first place.
I hope i could do more than just to sit and watch. Someday, maybe. As of now, the issue is hot. The government is not budging from it's stand, nor are the students. Hoping there is a feasible solution. Till then, it's the usual wait and watch.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Belated Birthday Blues

Reached an age where birthdays are not a cause for celebration. Fast nearing the thirties. But it feels good. Nobody takes you seriously in your twenties, and I believe it is a complete waste if you are not getting laid or sloshed or both in that time.
Anyways, 28 seems like a nice figure. For Now.