Brazil fever rages as city goes gaga over World Cup

: Perennial favourites and five-time FIFA World Cup champion Brazil is Kochi’s darling as the world waits with bated breath for the first ball to roll half-a-world away at Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo in the early hours of Friday.

Young footballer Abhishek Joshi, a third-year graduation student in a city college, says that Brazil is his favourite team. He hopes that the team lifts the cup for a record time but places his second bet on Portugal.

As a stopper back in the college and university team, he harks back to the glorious days of Roberto Carlos, whose bullet-like spot kicks are still etched in the minds of Brazil and Real Madrid fans.

His teammate Akash, a midfielder, says that Brazil has the strongest chance to lift the World Cup. His enthusiasm for Brazil is partly inspired by the performance of legendary Brazil and Barcelona mid-fielder Ronaldinho. Though he is not in the current team, Brazil has brought a strong team to the tournament, he says. But his friend and teammate N.K. Shabaz says that his favourite team is England though it has only a slim chance in Brazil.

P.T. Sellen, the former Head of the Department of Physical Education, Maharaja’s College, too has placed his bets on Brazil. “The underlying strength of the Brazil team is their rhythm and magic. They are exhilarating despite the fact that the European soccer style appeared to have conquered the world for a while.”

Former Josco FC manager Sunny Paul says the way Brazil conquered Spain in the Confederations Cup in 2013 is an indication of the things to come. They have proved their supremacy, he adds.

But for Viji Sam, a young filmmaker in the city, Italy is the favourite to win the honours. But Brazil and Uruguay are in the reckoning too, he says. Mr. Sam, who recently made a three-minute documentary on popular football coach Rufus D’Souza, says that football fever is more visible in Fort Kochi than in the heart of Ernakulam. However, even there, it cannot match the intensity in the northern districts.

Football is catching up in Kochi though not so noticeably, says K.A. Raju of the Department of Physical Education, Sacred Heart College, Thevara. The movement towards football is evident, though in a small measure, in the football academy at the College where there over 200 aspiring footballers aged between four and 17.

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