Intrinsic beauty of football All eyes on Qatar

There is something intrinsically beautiful about the game. It is much more than 22 players out there on the field, holding the world in captivity with their mesmerising footwork, dribbling, the headers, the team work and the acrobatic saves, for the beautiful game goes much more beyond the simple understanding of players from either side, trying to put the ball past the goalkeeper’s reach and into the net. It is much more than about who ultimately wins for here is involved a whole gamut of human emotions, so much so that even countries like India which has never ever qualified for the FIFA World Cup will tune in to watch the magic of the game as it kicks off at the Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar at 9.30 pm (Indian Standard Time). Manipur too is caught up in the World Cup frenzy with only a few days left for the first touch of the ball to go on November 20. It is in keeping with the immense interests that the World Cup has generated that The Sangai Express has been running a series of news story all connected to the World Cup. From recalling some of the best matches of the past, to the heroes that each World Cup produces unfailingly, The Sangai Express has also been putting on its best possible foot forward to make the run up to the World Cup all that more exciting. India is nowhere in the football summit, having never qualified even once, but this has not dimmed the people’s interest in the game, aptly called the ‘Beautiful Game’ by no one less than Pele, the man identified with the game as such. So from Pele to Garrincha, Bobby Moore, Franz Beckenbaur, Mario Kempes, Paolo Rossi, Maradona, Lothar Mattheus, the pair of Romario and Bebeto, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Roberto Carlos, the Tiki Taka of Spain in South Africa, giving a new understanding to team work by the brilliant Bastian Schweinsteiger of Germany in 2014 and more recently Mbappe are all names familiar to football loving fans and even cursory watchers of World Cup matches. This perhaps underlines the magic that football can weave across the world and it is along this understanding that fans not even remotely connected to the game will be found rooting for the team of their choice, which in most cases is likely to be Brazil, the sentimental favourites of every football fan. Or one could be a fan of the clinical German team or the flamboyant team from the Netherlands, which have never ever won the World Cup.
The beauty of the game and by extension the World Cup may also lie in the fact that it is not always the winners who are held in high esteem, but all outstanding players. If Maradona is remembered today for his Hand  of God goal and the goal of the century, both against England in the 1986 World Cup, all football lovers will still remember how a tearful Michel Platini led his team out of the 1982 World Cup after going down to the then West German team in what is today regarded as one of the best matches in the World Cup. The magic of Johan Cryuff of Netherlands will continue to be told even tough the team he led never laid hands on the World Cup.  Who can ever forget the emotional breakdown of Paul Gascoigne when the England team lost to West Germany in the 1990 semi final in the penalty shoot out. And yes Gary Lineker of England, who despite never ending up on the winning side has 10 goals in the World Cup to show from the 6 in 1986 and another 4 in 1990. Heroes the World Cup surely throws up everytime it is staged and it can go from the immensely gifted and world renowned player like Maradona to the little known Salvatore Schillachi of Italy who went on the win the golden boot in the 1990 World Cup as well as the Golden Ball as player of the tournament in the same year. All examples that the football World Cup throws up brilliance even though one may not necessarily be on the winning side. No wonder then that football fans who will find it hard to pin point Brazil on the world map are known to have gone into bouts of depression when their favourite team crash out of the tournament. The count down to Qatar starts now for The Sangai Express and one hopes that the Power Department does not play truant.