There is a lot of action in store for football fans
Are Bangalore's football fans getting the taste of ‘some big time' football? Well, A.R. Khaleel, president of the Karnataka State Football Association (KSFA) and a senior vice president of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) feels so. “There is definitely a variety that the fans are being treated to,” said Khaleel.
“Also having watched the same teams in the I-League First division, football crowds are bored. The Group A clashes that were played earlier last month was not an ideal fare. That, however, was more of an opportunity for the local teams — Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. Sports Club and BEML FC to make an impression and progress into the big league.”
BEML missed out, more due to lack of experience in the major tournaments while HASC just about scrapped through on better goal difference. “The enthusiasm and anxiety amongst the ‘B' and ‘C' division teams from Bangalore is indeed a happy sight and that in itself makes us in the KSFA committee happy for bringing the final round to Bangalore,” he added.
The players have welcomed this venue, more so with the rains cooling the temperatures last week. With teams such as Mohammedan Sporting and a compact though inexperienced ONGC showing lots of promise and depth, the standard at least in the final rounds (in progress now) looks to be more keener. Though Sporting did not set the stands alight in its first match against ONGC, it is keen to make the Elite division under coach Shabbir Ali.
“`There is positiveness in the team now and the point earned is going to motivate the players to come strongly in the remaining matches,” says Shabbir, a veteran coach and a former India star. However it is HASC's stake and progress that one is keenly following. Under coach Muralidhara HASC has the potential and prowess to advance into the next league but some raw talents have been benched.
The induction of Vishal Kumar and Karthigeyan in the starting eleven did infuse a lot of confidence into the youngsters and both dished out stout-hearted performances. But that was only due to the ‘yellow card suspensions' to a couple of regulars in the team.
Teams like Vasco with Mohammedan Sporting is one of the two teams relegated last season and seeking a re-entry into the top division, and Oil India have it in them to take some of the fancied teams in their stride.This tournament coming as it is ahead of FIFA's Academy project taking off and the laying of new turf at the football stadium does augur well for the State Association which is slowly getting its act together. With floodlights and renovation of the stands being prioritised, the glory days of Karnataka football seems to be at hand.AVINASH NAIR