Kolkata all set to give a grand farewell to Kahn (Preview)

May 26th, 2008 - 4:22 pm ICT by admin  

By Abhishek Roy
Kolkata, May 26 (IANS) When Bayern Munich take on city giants Mohun Bagan in an exhibition match here Tuesday, which would be legendary goalkeeper Oliver Kahn’s farewell game, the focus will not be on class or competitive football. The Bavarians have made it clear that it is social service which is high on their agenda, not football.

The German champions are in India for the first time as a part of their Asian Tour and have created a lot of buzz in the city known for its football passion.

The euphoria they have generated was hardly seen during the visit of any other foreign team in the recent past. Their reserve side came to play in the IFA Shield here in 2006, but the presence of former World Cupper Gerd Mueller as an assistant coach went unnoticed!

Bayern are the most famous club side to visit the city after Pele’s Cosmos (1977) and Dutch side PSV Eindhoven (1991), which had seven World Cuppers in their ranks.

The Munich club has won a double back home this season - the Bundesliga as well as the German Cup.

Kahn has reason to be excited about his farewell game.

Some 120,000 spectators will give a grand send-off to the 38-year-old shot-stopper, who will be seen guarding Bayern’s goal for one last time before hanging up his gloves.

In an illustrious career, spanning over two decades, King Kahn may have played all over the world, but he will get the real taste of his global popularity when he experiences the cheering from the football-mad Kolkatans.

Bayern have come here with 11 professionals in their side, but only three of them - Mark van Bommel and Ze Roberto and, of course, Kahn - are top grade. That clearly proves the point that they are here on an off-season sojourn not to get match-fit training.

Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld admitted that it is a “social visit” and that the players won’t even practice before the match. As for Kahn, he said on arrival that he would not disappoint the huge turnout, whatever that may mean.

Kolkata might just get a chance to see Kahn in a different role as he expressed his desire to play as a forward. That he might do so after handing over his gloves ceremonially to his successor. “I would love to take a free-kick or a corner,” he said.

Team manager Uli Hoeness, who has a World Cup (1974) medal, added that if there is situation to take a penalty then Kahn might be the one to take it.

All these sound bytes indicate that a script has already been prepared for Kahn.

Hoeness said they came to India despite their ignorance about the standard of the game in the country as it was part of their global plans.

“Frankly, we have no knowledge about Indian football. We should get to know Tuesday. We are here as a part of our global plan,” said the manager.

As for their opponents Mohun Bagan, they are Asia’s oldest club and have a proud history too.

But the Kolkata club will be without five of its key players, including captain Bhaichung Bhutia, who are all on national duty.

But all that Mohun Bagan hopes to in the carnival-like atmosphere is to impress the visitors with its brand of football.

Stand-in coach Satyajit Chatterjee is hoping that his players will live up to their reputation as members of a top Indian club.

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