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Monday, June 12, 2006

Chp 72. World Cup: My Team

One of the hardest things for me to do during these two Holy Months of The World Cup is selecting a team that I would cheer for.

When I was young, choosing a team was easy because those days I never got to watch much of International Football mainly due to the fact that it had a very poor coverage. After all, the only channels we used to get in our television back in Mizoram those days were Doordarshan, Bangaladesh channel, Burmese channel, and if we twist our reception antennae a bit here and there, we even used to get “Arirang” the Korean channel!

And then Star TV entered the Indian market (Those were the days when Star Plus used to air shows like Santa Barbara, Tour of Duty, Mash, Sledge Hammer, Moonlighting, Force Five etc). So even in Mizoram, people stopped watching “Chitrahaar” on Wednesday nights and Bangladesh’s “Movie of the Week” at 5pm on Fridays (*sigh* Those were truly the days! Sniff Sniff…) and switched to a more globalized version of TV entertainment.

Those days, World Cup would mean supporting for Brazil, Italy or Argentina. And regardless of what team we are supporting, most of us knew just a handful of players. Pele, Maradona, Rudd Gullit, Van Basten, Batistuta, Valderrama, Gary Lineker, Cantona, Zico and Lothar Matthaeus. I forgot which channel used to show those WC matches live, but I do remember watching it, with flags and facial paints and drums surrounded by my childhood friends and cousins.

And now, a lot of things have changed. One thing for starters, I have seen a hell lot of International matches. EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga, you name it. Hence you get to know nearly every current world class players. And I’ve also never missed a single Arsenal game for the past 3 years now. And I think this is the main reason why I’m finding it so damn hard to find “my team” in this World Cup.

And I think this problem is more or less faced by every hardcore Club supporters all over the World. Arsenal players are present in almost every team that has qualified for the league, and at the same time, players from Clubs I really hate are also there in the same team. What to do?

The other day, I was watching Argentina vs. Ivory Coast from my cozy new Mumbai flat. My roomie from Bangalore, also a hardcore Gunner fan, was all for Argentina. We were text messaging each other through out the match. I asked him how could he not support Ivory Coast which had two Arsenal players Toure and Eboue, and yet root for a team that has the likes of Riqueme that played a havoc in the Arsenal camp during our UEFA semi final and Messi from Barca who beat Arsenal in the finals and also Chelsea’s Crespo & ManUtd’s Heinze. His reply was, how could I support a team that has Drogba who scored a goal against Arsenal in both our two encounters with Chelsea last season.

So you see where I am getting at. Look at England. The defence line-up is made up of Chelsea’s Terry, ManUtd’s Rio and Arsenal’s Ashley Cole and there’s also our Sol Campbell. And so finally, yesterday I decided to keep all Club differences aside. It was indeed a hard thing to do, but I am not going to get anywhere with my loyal Arsenal vow, and we are already on day 4 of the competition. Better late than never.

And that is exactly the reason why I will not be supporting France. As I said before, at first I wanted to be behind France due to its heavy Arsenal presence, but Henry turned out to be the sole Arsenal player in the squad. Now that I have kept Club differences aside, Henry’s presence is really not enough for me to support a team. Ofcourse France has an excellent fire power in the offence area with Henry, Trezeguet, Saha, Wilthord and Cisse calling the shots and the formidable Viera at midfield (Zouzou isn’t the God he once used to be), but it would be better to have talent equally distributed in every position rather than just one spot. No team is ever going to play a 1-4-1-5 formation And other than Thuram, their defence isn’t that great compared to other teams (I don’t like Silvestre, never had, never will).

So with France out of the option, what else do I have? Man, Brazil is so freaking strong with Roberto Carlos, Cafu, Lucio, Cicinho at defence, Dida behind the gloves, Emerson, Ronaldhino, Kaka, Arsenal’s Gilberto , Juninho etc at Mid-field, Ronaldo, Adriano, Robinho as forwards. Phew! That’s one mean arsenal of players (pun not intended ). But a promise is a promise. Like I said before, the victory of a weaker team is much much more sweeter than that of one that’s sure to win. This ship ain’t sailing to Brazil.

Italy is also very strong with Del Piero, Inzaghi, Totti, Nesta, Cannavaro and the trustworthy Buffon. The same goes for Spain with Raul, Luis Garcias, David, Torres, Joaqin, Arsenal’s Reyes , Salgado, Puyol and either Casillas or Cannizares behind the gloves. But most of the other players are unfamiliar to me, and yeah, too many people I know are supporting these two teams solely because of “their good looks”. LoLz.

Finally, I came to a decision. Me and somebody I treasure deeply are both going to cheer for the Netherlands. It’s high time the Dutch glory days are revived once again. Why Holland? Because much as I hate to admit it, I really hold ManUtd’s Nistlerooy in high regards (Forgive me, my Arsenal brothers, for saying this). I consider him to be the best “poacher” ever in the history of football. And then there’s Chelsea’s Robben and Arsenal’s very own promising young Van Persie, and Van der Sar happens to be one of my favorite goal keeper (he replaced Tim Howard). Ajax’s Sneijder and PSV’s Cocu are also players not to be taken lightly. Plus the team has a lot of people named “Van”, just like me Van lalruatkima . There are exactly 6 Van’s in the current squad: Van Der Sar, Van Bronckhorst (ex Arsenal now in Barca) Van Der Vaart, Van Bommel, Van Nistlerooy and Van Persie. And I used to love their current coach when he was a player: The Legendary Van Basten himself (Who happens to be yet another Van!!! )

Ofcourse having similar name is not the only reason why I love this team. If similar name was the criteria, I would definitely go for South Korea which has 7 Kim’s in their line up: KIM Yong Dae, KIM Young Kwang, KIM Young Chul, KIM Dong Jin, KIM Jin Kyu, KIM Sang Sik, KIM Nam Il and KIM Do Heon. Man that’s a lot of KIMs. You’re definitely going to see a lot of players sporting the same name when Korea plays. And I think it is indeed a very good strategy to confuse the referee

Among the under-dogs, I am all the way behind Togo, not just because they are led by Arsenal’s very own Adebayor who is the current African leading scorer in this competition with 12 goals to his credit so far, but also because they have a very impressive team record. They beat Senegal 3-1 and a host of other Nations and this is by far one of the best under-dog team ever. Go Togo!


sowmya said...

I never cared about the clubs except for MU , for one and the only reason being NISTRELROOY. So, pretty much I was always and will be cheering up for rooy's dependanable football skills and his GOODLOOKS obviously:-p!
I remember how ardently my dad would follow liverpool [which was his generation team] but seeing them get their ass kicked, he thought better and switched teams to arsenal!Dad would sure be happy to know there is yet another die hard arsenal fan with his owns pledges of alliegence!:-)
But Holland rocks!!! The 7 "van"s might just turn out to be the lucky charm:D!
Every single second, Day or Night for these two holy months, I am whole heartedly cheering for the Dutch men, and it only makes me really happy knowing you are doing the same:-). Goodluck to OUR team!

Anonymous said...

heheheheh and what about the team from nepal- They have a lot of
"LAL" lAL Bahadur, lal maya, lal kumar, lal thapa Bahadur lal, Champa Lal......


Cheer on bro..The Netherlands team are good..except for Van Persie being lil off color i think they are the biggest dark horses in the tournament. will keep a close eye on them becase they look the only team that can beat the Brazilians.

take care: sonam

benjamin rualthanzauva said...

Force Five kha i lo en ve thin ni maw..

Nirav said...

In the old days, people used to decide on their club support based on the country they root for. That is why a lot of English supporters chose Man U as their club. But now, with the telecast of the EPL over 7-8 years old, its the other way round.

And come on, France has a good defence in Gallas, Thuram, Ebidal and Sagnol... and Makelele as the DM. Even I dont like Silvetre, and its unlikely he will start.

And now, I am shocked that you like Nistelrooy... he is a good poacher no doubt, but he is a cheat. I cant stand the sight of him and he is the only reason why I dont want Holland to win

illusionaire said...

@ Nirav: Ok ok Nobody's perfect :-P

Everybody cheats now and then. Remember the hand of God? But I don't think Nistlerooy will be up to his usual tricks coz he knows the whole world will be watching his every move. Comon give him a chance, and also give me a break! Let me love him for the next two months atleast. I promise I will start hating him once the EPL season starts again :-)

By the way, next season we have a very strong team, what with walcott and our latest acquisition Rosicky. Did you see his two goals yesterday? Man, next season is going to be a great season for Arsenal.

illusionaire said...

@ Sowmya: Yeah I love your dad. I have the sinking feeling I've already met him before *wink*

Glad to know we are both behind the same team too. Till DUTCH do us apart, dear Sowmya :-)

illusionaire said...

@ Sonam: Bro wassuppppp!!!!!!!!!!!

Where are you now and what's your team for this World Cup????

Yup Netherland has been rightfully called the best team to have never won a World Cup. This year, they are going to change that.

illusionaire said...

@ Benjamin:

En e! Gaiking te, Grandizer te, Vanguard Ace te... hehehe i en ve zawk thin em mi? Football hi chu i tui loh hmel khawp mai nang pui hi chu :-)

The Last Templar said...


So after years of hibernating, we found you on the Net in your new avtar as a blogger.Whats up man? Reading a couple of your blogs reminds me of the phrase:'If you believe everything you read, you better not read'.Keep writing bro!

Anonymous said...

bro, basta never replied to my email..did u get mine?

illusionaire said...

Heheh nice one Last Templar. Now do you mind telling me who you are so that I too can truly enjoy the euphoria of finding somebody on the Net after years of hibernation?


illusionaire said...

Bro Sonam, I never got any email from you :-(

Any important news? Plz send it to me again.

benjamin rualthanzauva said...

The Last Templar,

"An idea is not responsible for those who believe in it"

The Real J said...

I'm just a woman and what do I know about football (even if I've been following international football on TV only since the '82 WC...sic) but was this a little trick meant to throw us unknowledgeable weaker sex out for a loop or wot? "One of the hardest things for me to do during these two Holy Months of The World Cup is selecting a team that I would cheer for". Now my WC experience goes back just a measly 24 years but as far as my little olde tottering memory serves me, the WC finals have ALWAYS been played for a SINGLE month, not TWO. Now put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Anonymous said...

Nisteltrooy as the greatest poacher ever. NAh no way.
Sorry to be rude and posting as anonymous but surely u must hv heard of a certain Pipo Inzaghi who currently ply his trade at a certain A.C.Milan. Inzaghi is one of the most talentless players I have ever seen the only talent he has to be there where the ball is in the D area.
Check out his stats !!!! formidable.

illusionaire said...

@ The real J:

Thank you for visiting dear. Yeah I know what you mean when you say you've been watching World Cup for a long time now. You're probably the only visitor to my blog who saw Pele made that historical World Cup goal at the age of 17 Live on TV :-)

ok ok sorry, I cudnt help it with that one. Love you. Muuuaaah*. :-)

Who are u supporting for J? Me Holland and Amos is Argentina. And both countries are in the same pool so its gonna be a bloody sms war once again when these two teams meet. hehehe...

illusionaire said...

@ Anonymous:

Well I guess everybody will have their own opinion. When comparing Nistelrooy and Inzaghi, I would say the scale favours the former, but we are talking about poaching here. I just wanna make one point clear. By calling Nistelrooy a poacher, i dont mean to be sarcastic like how I think you are with Inzaghi, after all, many people consider poaching a very cheap tactic. Yes Nistelrooy is a great poacher, but he also combine that with his own personal skills and thats what I really like about him.

illusionaire said...

@ Benjamin: Ah! Still trying to think of what football related comments can you possibly make? :-D

Anonymous said...

Well I have great respect for poachers bcos I think their game requires much intelligence. U hv to correctly gauge a balls dynamics and guess where it might go after a deflection. Not an easy skill.
Anyway u are right thet Nistelrooy is a greater player. He is but in my opinion Inzaghi is a greater poacher. He has 54 CL goals compared to Nistelrooys 44. That means something and he is not even a starter at A.C.Milan.
Anyway sorry for intruding for tresppasing on ur blog, but its just that I feel people are too influenced by EPL to look at other leagues and players and at past too.
For example I guess everyone has heard of Theo Walcott but have you even heard of Sergio Aguero. I guess not but u will in a couple of yr.

illusionaire said...

Ooops sorry, I didnt see ur comment :-)

And hey! You're not trespassing or intruding or anything like that. You're always welcome to visit and comment even if it's under anonymous. Am more than happy to listen to what other people think.

And you're absolutely right about the EPL thingie. I plead guilty to your charges. All this is due to the coverage. EPL is shown during the prime time here in India, while a Spanish match starts at 2am! and other than those two leagues, I watch the Italian and Bundesliga highlights on Ten Sports. Hence because of all these, i tend to know more about EPL than any other league. But I do visit a lot of sports sites and forums to keep in touch with whats happening at other places.