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Football fiesta

With the FIFA World Cup just a fortnight away, pubs and sports bars are gearing up for the biggest sports tournament in the world with unmatched excitement and enthusiasm

15th June 2018 – a date marked in the calendars of football fans across the world, as it is the day that ushers in the 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup, the biggest sporting extravaganza in the world. Like the rest of the world, the people of Delhi too are all set to stay glued to all the action that is happening 4,000 km across the globe in the land of Russia.

“The World Cup is a unique tournament”, says veteran football analyst and commentator Novy Kapadia. “Every four years, this tournament sets the world alight, and since India does not participate in the tournament, Indians shift their patriotism and loyalty to another country for one month.”

“But the excitement has always been at its peak in West Bengal and Kerala, and the interest in football in New Delhi is a very new thing, especially after the popularity of foreign leagues and the emergence of Ronaldo and Messi and their huge fan base,” says Kapadia.

Pubs and bars around the city too are planning to cash in on this enthusiasm of people, as they plan to hold screenings of the matches and lay out a whole pool of offers surrounding the World Cup.

Glued Reloaded, a sports bar located in Sector 41 Noida, has a special area called the ‘Stadium’ where they will arrange the screenings on an 18-feet-long screen, the largest in NCR, says Shashank, manager at the pub. “Our ‘Stadium’ can hold 500 people, but we will break the two cricket lanes, which we had built for the IPL, so that we can accommodate over 700 people. During the finals, we expect a rush of over 1,500 people, so our whole pub will be reserved for that event only.” The ‘Stadium’ area will even have chant mikes, so that people can start a chant for their teams, and it will also boast of home and away lights, which will start glowing, whenever the home or away team scores a goal.

At The Playground in Dwarka, customers can come in and enjoy the match on a live projector, and if their team loses, they can always revert the loss on the console, as the pub has arranged for playstations, preloaded with FIFA 18, so they too be part of the action.

In addition to screening the matches live on the projector, Smoke on Water in Connaught Place offers unlimited beer and snacks during the whole duration of 90 minutes for Rs 499, and also offers free shots, with every goal scored by the team the customers are supporting.

The Ambroisia Bliss restaurant in Connaught Place, which usually has its happy hours till 8.30 pm, will extend it till 11.30 pm since most of the matches end on that time.

This year, organisers have breathed a sigh of relief as the matches end by 11.30 pm, with only a handful of matches stretching till 1.30 pm. “Last year, during the World Cup in Brazil, the matches used to happen at 3.30 am, and we could not screen them, as per the rules of Delhi Police. But this time the timings are a lot more flexible and we could properly cash in on the World Cup fever”, says Trilok Singh, manager of Gulmohar Club in South Delhi.

However, some people prefer to stay away from the rush and enjoy the matches in the comfort of their homes. For ardent Brazil supporter, Sombuddha Hazra Chowdhury, chilling out with friends and family over a World Cup match after coming home from work is more worth it than going out to a pub. “I will invite my friends over to my place, and shout our lungs out for Brazil. With Neymar and Gabriel Jesus in our team, we will win the cup for a record sixth time”, says Chaudhury, a resident of Rajinder Nagar.

“I usually have night shifts, so I won’t be able to catch the matches on my television”, says Ranit Das, a resident of Noida. “So, I will watch the matches live on my mobile phone, and cheer Germany on as they lift the World Cup”, adds Das. Interestingly, SonyLiv, the app which will broadcast the matches live, has seen over 5,00,000 downloads in the last one month, according to statistics obtained from the company.

Even the Russian embassy is offering special visas to those travelling for the World Cup in Russia. People carrying these visas will get all assistance from the authorities, and even from the officials at the stadiums.

According to Competitive Sports, an online jersey selling company, demands this year for national jerseys are at an all-time high, especially in Delhi. Argentina is selling the most number of shirts followed by Germany, Portugal and Brazil.
“This year, the World Cup, will perhaps be the most interesting one in recent years. With big names like Chile, Italy, USA and Netherlands missing from the tournament, fans will be excited to see, what the underdogs can bring to the table. Overall the World Cup 2018 promises to be bigger than ever, says Novy Kapadia.

 

WATCH OUT FOR:

While the world waits with baited breath for the performances of Christiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar and Eden Hazard, India’s premier football analyst Novy Kapadia picks the lesser known players that may set the World Cup alight.

 

Argentina’s Paulo Dybala 

1) Paulo Dybala (Argentina) – While all eyes of Argentina fans will be on Messi, this young and dynamic 24-year Juventus striker, with his prolific goal scoring ability, may just end up grabbing all eyeballs

2) Mohammed Salah (Egypt) – The highest goal scorer of the English Premier League this season, this Egyptian goal machine may cause troubles for everyone if he continues his prolific form

3) Sadio Mane (Senegal) – Part of the Champions League runners’ up Liverpool’s squad this year, the attacking midfielder may cause nightmares for the opponents’ defences

4) Harry Kane (England) – Harry Kane ended 2017 as the highest goal scorer of that year surpassing both Messi and Ronaldo. Touted as the best goal scorer in the world at the moment, Kane could boost England’s chances in Russia

5) Delle Ali (England) – Literally a nobody even three years ago, the youngster from Tottenham Hotspurs has established himself from playing second-tier football to one of the most promising midfielders in the world

6) Sardar Azmou (Iran) – Dubbed as the ‘Iranian Messi’ Sardar Asmou has been brilliant for Russian side Rubin Kazan , and his experience of playing in Russia may come in handy

7) Kylian Mbappe (France) – This 18-year-old recently broke the record of the most expensive teenager in the world when PSG bought him for a whopping $150 million. He certainly has the skills to back his price tag.

8)Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium) – Often considered as the most complete player in the star-studded Manchester City squad, De Bruyne holds the record for the most assists in the premier league this season.

9) Gabriel Jesus (Brazil) – The 21-year-old Manchester City striker was always brought on as a sub and scored crucial goals at vital stages to crown them champions. His partnership with Neymar upfront may be vital.

10) Christian Eriksen (Denmark) – Often considered the most dangerous dead ball expert in the world, Eriksen is the vital cog in Pochettino’s successful Tottenham squad as he sets up crucial goals. He may prove vital for Denmark’s chances in Russia.